Trump Dominates Nevada Caucuses–The pundits, bloggers, and beltway crew who prophesied the Donald’s demise are sure eating it after the billionaire magnate had a tremendous night with caucus-goers in the Silver State. Trump drowned the competition, garnering 45.9 percent of the vote to Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) 23.9 percent and Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) 21.4 percent.
The Donald took urban, rural, and suburban voters, along with the key counties of Washoe and Clark. Men, women, every age demographic (except 17-29 years olds; they went for Rubio), whites, nonwhites, Latino (we’ll get to that in a second), and everyone who had graduate degrees to the “poorly educated.” In another punch to the gut to Cruz, Trump took the evangelical and conservative vote. Concerning the issues–terrorism, the economy, immigration, and government spending–it was all Trump. On candidate qualities, Rubio was the candidate most think could win this year, Cruz took the “shares my values” folk, and Trump took the "tell it like it is" and "could bring change" to Washington crowd. So, in many ways, it was abject slaughter.
Is the Cruz ship going down? – Two things are now obvious. The evangelical and conservative voters are not flocking to Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been the target of some very negative press over reported campaign tactics that are less than honorable. The fiasco that ensued over his ex-communications director, Rick Tyler, pushing the patently false narrative that Rubio mocked the Bible on a chance encounter with a Cruz staffer in the lobby of a Hampton Inn while in South Carolina.
The Texas senator has hedged his bets on running as a “consistent conservative,” and cobbling together like-minded voters to win the nomination. But like so many candidates this cycle, he got Trumped. The Palmetto State was tailor made for Cruz to win but finished a disappointing third place and didn’t win a single county. While Cruz has touted his campaign is the only thus far to beat Trump, two consecutive third place finishes in the last two contests point to momentum formulating behind Rubio, who has seen a deluge of endorsements and access to campaign cash following Gov. Jeb Bush’s exit from the race. Cruz needed to come out on top in the battle for second place last night and failed. On top of that, Trump is growing his organization, having more paid staffers than either Cruz or Rubio at this point. The conservative firebrand is probably not going to drop out due to the fact that he’s still got money in the war chest, but Trump is probably going to take the voters Cruz needs to pull away on Super Tuesday–and states that have substantial evangelical and conservative voters dips after March 1. States that are more favorable to his closest rival Rubio, and of course, Trump.
Adelson Factor- The casino tycoon voted yesterday, with his wife, Miriam, but he refused to disclose who he cast his ballot for last night. The Wall Street Journal caught up with the billionaire at his caucus location and deduced that it could have been Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, or Rick Santorum. Adelson dropped $100 million in 2012, so whoever is the benefactor of his endorsement is sure to tap into a reservoir of campaign cash, especially if the candidate isn’t a person named Donald Trump.
The Latino Vote-The entrance polls showed the Donald winning Latinos, but there are a number of factors at play here. Latino Decisions noted that entrance polls aren’t the best gauge, the sample size of Latinos in the poll was only 130, and Hispanics have been moving away from the GOP:
We are only talking about the very small percent of Nevada Latinos who are Republican today. An overwhelming majority of Nevada Latinos are Democrats. In a recent poll asking about party identification, 55% of Latinos said they were Democrats, 29% said Independents and just 16% said they were Republicans. Assuming the entrance poll is correct (a very big assumption) and Trump won 44% of Latino Republicans, that means he was supported by about 7% of Latinos in Nevada (44% of 16 = 7.04). What that mean is that most likely, 93% of Latinos in Nevada did not vote for Trump.
Just looking at Latino participation in the Democratic and Republican caucuses, there were an estimated 16,500 Latinos who participated in the Democratic caucus and cast a Democratic ballot. On the Republican side it was about 6,000 and Trump came away with an estimated 2,600 Latino votes, or only 11% of all Latinos participants in the caucuses.
Yes, again, the Donald had a great night–but don’t read too much into the Latino poll.
Clock is ticking for Rubio– The Florida senator has some wind to his back, but will it be enough to move past the Donald, especially when March 15 comes around, where he has to win his home state and possibly Illinois or Ohio to catch up in the delegate math with Trump. If he loses, that could be the ballgame. Yet, entrance polls in Nevada show that Rubio clinched late deciding voters. Nevertheless, it doesn’t negate the pressing issue that time is ticking, and this primary schedule might not give enough time for Rubio to truly maximize the positive factors that are lining up behind him in this race.
Democrats prepare for Fight Club in South Carolina– Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Hillary Clinton are preparing for battle in the Palmetto State, where the former first lady is expected to beat Sanders (RCP average has her beating him 57/33) due to her strength among black voters. Her much needed win in Nevada showed that her support with Black Democrats remains strong, and that the polls showing her having the national edge were probably right. At the same time, there’s no doubting the Sanders factor, which has become the manifestation of the new order with liberals, as he’s seen his candidacy strengthen by legions of young Democrats. According to Dave Weigel of the Washington Post, Clinton’s Super Tuesday strategy is exploit her advantage with black voters to the fullest, where she’ll probably win handily over Sanders, but added that there are no southern primaries after March 15, where the Democratic race shifts northward and westward–areas where Sanders could mount a comeback. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver noted that Sanders may have lost Nevada’s caucuses, but could win every other one from here on out. Like Republicans, Democrats are going to have their own blood sports as well. Let's see what happens after Super Tuesday since Weigel is rehashing what many have said is Clinton's underreported weakness: white working class voters. Ronald Brownstein alluded to the pickle her campaign will soon face, which is do we try to garner more support from working class whites at the expense of those reliable voters who make up the Obama coalition, or try and keep that coalition and risk sacrificing more of the white working class to the Republicans.
On The Road Again– via National Journal, Trump descends into Virginia; Kasich is in Mississippi and Louisiana; Cruz and Rubio are holding rallies in Houston, Texas; Clinton shoring up support in South Carolina; and Sanders is sweeping through Missouri and Oklahoma.