Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s victories Saturday in Nevada and South Carolina raise two big questions for the next stops in the primary season.
Can Clinton build on her narrow Nevada victory and chalk up a bigger win next Saturday in South Carolina, which features a substantial African American population, and can Trump move even further away from the pack—including establishment favorite Marco Rubio – Tuesday in the Silver State.
The Republican candidates are now shifting their attention to Nevada, and the most recent polling shows that the race is not nearly as tight as the Clinton-Sanders battle.
Ford O’Connell, former adviser to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, said the thing to watch in Nevada will be who wins second place after a near tie for the spot in South Carolina between Cruz and Rubio. While Rubio has lived in Nevada, Republicans in the state have so far not rallied around him.
Nevertheless, what Nevada ultimately reveals about who the Republican Party’s nominee is likely to be is uncertain. One key question is whether the Silver State will whittle down the cast of candidates to three.
“If it doesn’t consolidate before March 15, when all of a sudden the Republican primaries become winner take all, it’s going to be a disaster for the party moderates,” O’Connell said. “As long as the field stays wide, as in more than three candidates, Trump is in good shape.”