Businessman Donald Trump inched closer to the U.S. Republican presidential nomination after easily outdistancing his rivals in the Nevada caucuses on Tuesday, giving him his third win in four early nominating contests.
Trump won Nevada by a margin of 22 percentage points, garnering 45.9 percent of the vote, the state Republican Party said after 100 percent of all precincts reported results. That gave him at least 12 of the 30 delegates at stake, which would bring his total to at least 79 before February ends, according to the Associated Press.
While more than 1,200 are needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination, Trump has built a formidable head start over his main rivals, U.S. senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.
Rubio eked out another second-place showing with 23.9 percent of the vote, and Cruz again came in a close third with 21.4 percent. Each gained at least five delegates, the AP reported.
Finishing at the bottom of the heap were retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 4.8 percent of the vote and Ohio Governor John Kasich with 3.6 percent.
Polls suggest Trump will do well in many of those Super Tuesday states, placing further pressure on Cruz and Rubio, as well as Carson and Kasich, who were not factors in Nevada.
“These guys have to figure out how to turn their fire on Trump,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist in Washington. Absent that, he said: “Which one is going to get out of this field?”