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Nevada Was Great For Donald Trump, Bad For Ted Cruz

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives for a caucus night rally Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives for a caucus night rally Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Let’s get right to the point: Donald Trump had a great night, easily winning the Nevada GOP caucuses on Tuesday. The 46 percent of the vote he received is by far the highest share won by Trump, or any other Republican, in any state so far. Marco Rubio placed a distant second, with 24 percent of the vote, and Ted Cruz finished in third with 21 percent.

If South Carolina, which Trump won Saturday, provided some bits of good news for Trump skeptics — Trump faded over the course of the week and finished with less of the vote than he had in New Hampshire — his victory in Nevada was much more emphatic. Trump proved he could win in a relatively low-turnout environment,1 suggesting that his lack of a traditional “ground game” may not be that harmful to him.

The result underscores that preventing Trump from winning the nomination is likely to require both that anti-Trump Republicans coalesce around an alternative and that they adopt a much more aggressive strategy in probing Trump for signs of weakness. On the first point, anti-Trump Republicans have made some progress: Rubio, who narrowly finished second in both South Carolina and Nevada, has received a cavalcade of endorsements in recent days as Republican “party elites” have increasingly rallied around him as the top alternative to Trump.

But there are not yet many signs of a concerted effort to attack Trump. Instead, reports from Politico and other news organizations suggest that potential conservative donors are largely sitting on the sidelines. Remarkably little advertising money has been spent against Trump so far, especially given his position in the race. Rubio has also conspicuously avoided attacking Trump.

Read more at FiveThirtyEight.com…

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