Donald Trump has done it again. The Republican front-runner continued to pull ahead of the GOP pack on Tuesday night as results rolled in from the Nevada caucus, with early projections placing him at a very comfortable distance (with about 44 percent of the vote) from Marco Rubio (24 percent) and Ted Cruz (22 percent). The latter two presidential hopefuls have become neck-and-neck contenders for second place in their party’s standing.

CNN set the tone for Trump’s victory just after the voting wound down:

Donald Trump will win the Nevada Republican caucuses, CNN projects, expanding his dominance in the early GOP contests despite the well-organized campaigns of his two chief rivals: Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

The results in Nevada, a state with complex caucus rules and unreliable voter data, were yet another sign of how Trump’s momentum is sweeping the country. He heads into the Super Tuesday contests riding high in the polls and maintaining a wide lead over the other GOP contenders in the delegate count.

[…] In a state where only 33,000 of the state’s 400,000 GOP voters turned out to caucus in 2012 — a mere 7% — the campaigns of Cruz, Rubio and one-time candidate Jeb Bush got organized early, snapping up talented operatives and key endorsements, while beginning caucus trainings last fall in the hopes that a strong organization could overcome Trump’s momentum.

But Trump steamrolled through all of that, dominating not just the polls, but capturing the excitement and buzz in the race with his visits here.

Tuesday’s turnout was much stronger than the lackadaisical showing by voters in the last election cycle, with many precincts reporting higher numbers this time than had been anticipated.

The New York Times zoomed in on the impact of Tuesday’s win on Trump’s campaign, as well as on those of his rivals:

For Mr. Trump, the outcome in Nevada is another sign of his campaign’s durability and the breadth of his appeal: He has now handily won primary elections in New England and in the South, and a caucus fight in the far West. He won over independent voters in New Hampshire and evangelicals in South Carolina, and prevailed in Nevada, where Mormon voters and rural activists wield influence.

[…] Mr. Trump’s success in Nevada is also likely to increase the pressure on his opponents to somehow join forces against a common enemy.

Mr. Cruz and Mr. Rubio have attacked each other angrily in recent days, as each has struggled to establish himself as Mr. Trump’s strongest rival. Mr. Cruz has intensified his hawkish comments on immigration to compete with Mr. Trump, and has argued that only a conservative running well to the right of Mr. Trump can challenge him effectively.

Mr. Rubio, on the other hand, has sought to unite Republican leaders behind his bid, casting himself as the only candidate capable both of defeating Mr. Trump and winning a difficult general election race. Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, appeared to open a wider path in the race for Mr. Rubio when he ended his campaign on Saturday after a disappointing finish in the South Carolina primary.

The New York Times’ tally tracker updated the results in real time, showing Trump’s winnings alongside last week’s Democratic caucus outcome in the Western state.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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