Trump Easily Wins Nevada Caucuses

February 24, 2016, 5:10 AM UTC

Donald J. Trump, the billionaire whose name floats on a hotel high above the Las Vegas Strip, claimed a third consecutive win on Tuesday, besting rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in Nevada’s little-attended caucuses. It was the latest reminder that the brash former reality show star remained a player in the Republicans’ rough-and-tumble nominating fight.

As polls closed, The Associated Press declared Trump the winner. Early election returns mirrored the scant public polling, and Trump seemed headed toward an easy victory.

Less clear was the second-place finisher. Cruz and Rubio were locked in a tight race there. Further back, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson were afterthoughts.

The Nevada caucuses were marred with allegations of dodgy behavior as balloting happened. The state party, which runs the caucuses, defended itself and said no allegations of wrongdoing or impropriety had been reported. Even so, it was obvious Cruz and Rubio would have plenty of reasons to cast doubt on Trump’s win.

Caucuses shut down at 9 p.m. local time (midnight on the East Coast). Hours before that, Twitter and other social media platforms were screaming about fraud. After all, there were pictures on Twitter of ballot collectors dressed in Trump gear.

The caucuses were not a state-run affair, as primaries in other states are. Instead, they were being run by the state GOP, and its leaders were feeling the criticism that, in typical online fashion, seemed to gain steam with each retweet.

“It’s not against the rules for volunteers to wear candidate gear,” the state party tweeted. “Volunteers went through extensive training & are doing a great job.”

In another tweet, the party tried to downplay the controversies: “There have been no official reports of voting irregularities or violations.”

The caucuses come amid a winnowing of the GOP field down to five, although it really is just a three-man race in Nevada. Trump has proved a durability many Republicans thought impossible, and Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas were gaining steam after strong finishes in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

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