Washington: Donald Trump cemented his frontrunner status in the Republican presidential race with a third consecutive victory in Nevada caucuses as his two major rivals Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio failed to arrest his winning streak. With the real estate mogul with over 42 percent votes leading with double digit margins over Rubio and Cruz, who are fighting for the second place, major news channels were quick to declare him the winner shortly after the polls closed.
Significantly, exit polls showed Trump's support across all demographics, virtually paving his way towards party nomination and strengthening as it did his position before March 1 Super Tuesday when 12 states hold nominating contests.
Trump has now come in second in Iowa and first in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. While Texas Senator Cruz managed to push him to the second place in Iowa, establishment favourite Rubio has yet to win a state.
Rubio's entire campaign is predicated on other candidates dropping out and Rubio picking up their support, CNN said. But there's no indication that anyone with a substantial base of support will bow out before mid-March, and that may be too late, it said.
For Trump, "the outcome in Nevada is another sign of his campaign's durability and the breadth of his appeal," said the New York Times. "He won over independent voters in New Hampshire and evangelicals in South Carolina, and prevailed in Nevada, where Mormon voters and rural activists wield influence," it noted.
"This latest triumph may only encourage Mr. Trump in the brash campaign style that has alienated many Republican officials and mainstream voters," the Times said.
"The results are likely to reinforce the sense among national Republican leaders that only direct confrontation can block Mr. Trump from claiming the party's nomination, because none of the party's most powerful voting blocs seems likely to thwart him on its own," the Times said.
The Washington Post attributed Trump's third straight win in Nevada to "an angry electorate hungry for a political outsider in the White House."