How people elect parliaments
Republican candidate Donald Trump has registered his best performance in the first four states holding presidential primaries with just under 46% of the vote in the state of Nevada.
Key remaining rivals Marco Rubio (24%) and social conservative Ted Cruz (21%) split most of the remaining vote.
The turnout of caucus participants was over 75,000, a huge surge on the previous record of 44,000 for Republican party voters, and again suggesting that Trump is attracting new voters to participate in his adopted party’s primary elections.
In the aftermath of the vote Trump attracted his first two endorsements from non-elected delegates who will also vote to elect the party’s presidential nominee at the party convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in July.
The endorsements have geographical significance, as Congressmen Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York both represent states with politically moderate populations where Trump’s future performance will be highly important.
Trump has moved on to a total convention delegate count of 84, leading Cruz’ tally of 17 and Rubio’s 14.
In fact Trump has been awarded around two-thirds of all the elected delegates conferred, largely due to the disproportional advantages gained by coming first.
Trump appears to have fallen one or two delegates short of collecting a majority of the Nevada state delegation. Under party rules a Republican candidate needs to accumulate eight state delegation majorities to be eligible to put their name forward at the party convention.
So far Trump is the only candidate to record any such majorities, from his two wins in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Rubio’s narrow win over Cruz for second place is his second such result in the past few days. Rubio aims not only to consolidate the support of the party establishment and moderate forces, but also see off Cruz to become the sole challenger to Trump for the remainder of the season.
Cruz, however, has his strongest states of the season voting next week in the 14-state mass primaries of ‘Super Tuesday’ on March 1. If Cruz performs well as expected the party’s three-way divide – which so far has massively benefited Trump – will continue.
With repeated solid wins, Trump is moving towards a position where he is guaranteed to finish in the top two candidates by the close of the voting season in June.
If both Cruz and Rubio continue to collect about equal lesser numbers of delegates, Trump will soon reach his next mathematical target: that no candidate other than him can accumulate a majority of the elected delegates.
Exit polling also identified another trend in Nevada – a sharp rise in the proportion of voters saying they were “very angry with government” to 57%.
Trump has built his campaign around an identity as an outsider who will change the way Washington operates. This strong identification with Republican voter sentiment is providing his vote with a very solid floor.
The race now moves on to the 14-state event on March 1, which will cause almost 600 elected delegates to flow onto the candidates’ tallies.