After Donald Trump’s sweeping victory in Nevada on Tuesday, the billionaire expressed optimism that what had been, until now, a grueling and jumbled Republican contest would be over sooner than expected.
Trump, who trounced his opposition in Nevada with 46 percent of the vote, touted the diversity of his supporters.
“We won the Evangelicals,” Trump said. “We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated,” to which he added, “I love the poorly educated! They are the smartest people, the most loyal people.”
Establishment favorite Marco Rubio eked out just ahead of Ted Cruz with 24 compared with 21 percent of the vote. The win marks Trump’s third consecutive primary victory, and his largest thus far—despite Jeb Bush’s recent departure from the race, which establishment Republicans hoped would be a boon to Rubio.
In his victory speech, Trump taunted his rivals and boasted about his growing popularity in their home states. Politico reports:
Visualizing his conquest in detail, Trump name-checked the home states of his three remaining serious rivals as he hailed polling in primaries set for March 1 and the two big winner-take-all contests set for March 15.
“And we’ve had some great numbers coming out of Texas. And amazing numbers coming out of Tennessee and Georgia and Arkansas and then in a couple of weeks later, Florida. We love Florida. We’re going to do very well in Ohio. We’re beating the governor,” Trump said, referring to John Kasich.
“It’s going to be an amazing two months,” Trump said. “We might not even need the two months, folks, to be honest.”
Trump’s seemingly unstoppable success has the GOP establishment scrambling in a last-ditch effort to wound the frontrunner. A number of Super PACs have reportedly lined up millions of dollars specifically to launch a strategic campaign against him.
However, Politico reporter Shane Goldmacher argues Wednesday that “Trump hasn’t just hijacked the Republican Party but fractured it newly into three.”
The populist billionaire’s rise to the pinnacle of Republican politics has upended what had been decades of relative GOP stability, a 40-year span in which most Republican presidential contests since 1976 neatly narrowed to an establishment-embraced front-runner and a conservative insurgent alternative. No more.
Suddenly, there are three strands of the Republicanism, each entrenched and vying for supremacy in 2016. Ted Cruz is the leader of the traditional conservative purists. Marco Rubio is emerging from the mud of a multi-candidate brawl to lead the once-dominant, now diminished, mainstream lane of the GOP.
But it is Trump’s new alliance of angry populists that is ascendant—and on the precipice of dominance.
“What Trump is consolidating is the people who are unhappy being in either camp—those who don’t see themselves as conservative insurgents or as mainstream Republicans,” Yuval Levin, editor of the quarterly conservative journal National Affairs, told Goldmacher. “They’re insurgents but they’re not conservatives. And they’re not happy with the system that gave us that binary choice.”
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