UPDATE: Feb 24, 2016, 12:01 a.m. EST — Donald Trump clinched his third Republican contest victory Tuesday with exit polls showing him ahead at 42 percent in the Nevada caucus. It was his third consecutive win: After coming in second to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in Iowa, the New York billionaire won double-digit victories in the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio were still locked in a close race for second place. The win further cemented Trump's claim to be the GOP frontrunner.
UPDATE: 9:59 p.m. EST — Ahead of caucus sites in Nevada preparing to close, it was immediately unclear when results would be available as the overall narrative of the state's contest has turned to one of at least partial chaos, according to the GOP of Nevada. There have repeated allegations of caucus-goers being allowed to vote more than once, and without having to show any ID. There has also been a massive surge of voters, shattering expectations for turnout despite many voters having pre-registered to participate.
GOP official on caucus insanity, reports of double voting. pic.twitter.com/CY6ACvLssM
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) February 24, 2016
Five Republican candidates remain in the quest for their party's presidential nomination, with the latest hurdle coming in the form of the GOP Nevada caucuses. Three of the White House hopefuls are seen as the most serious contenders— business mogul Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson round out the field, though, save for Kasich coming in second place in the New Hampshire primary, each has not had much success in the early primary season.
Nevada caucusing is scheduled to get underway at 5 p.m. local time, but it might be a late night for those waiting for the results to be announced. All caucusing ends at 9 p.m. PST, or midnight on the East Coast, and as Political Wire reports, the contest doesn't have the best reputation for delivering timely results.
As expected, the candidates ramped up their rhetoric in the hours leading up to Nevada, with Trump leading the way and pointing his finger at Cruz, characterizing him as "a little baby" for the complaints the Texas senator leveled against the billionaire.
Live Nevada Results Map
"I've met much tougher people than Ted Cruz. He is like a baby compared to some of the people I have to deal with. He is like a little baby: soft, weak, little baby by comparison," Trump said Monday night, CNN reported.
Cruz spent Monday in relative damage control after he fired his campaign spokesman for publicizing what turned out to be an inaccurate report of Rubio disrespecting the Bible.
Rubio, who has been racking up support from an increasing number of establishment politicians, has thus far amassed just 10 delegates, compared to Cruz's 11 and Trump's leading 67. He says getting more delegates is all that's on his mind in Nevada, where 30 are up for grabs.
“I want to leave here tomorrow with a lot of delegates,” Rubio said, USA Today reported. “I think we can do that.”
Carson, whose descent from near the top of the polls has continued with each subsequent round of voting, decided against attacking his rival candidates in favor of targeting President Barack Obama. The neurosurgeon took a swipe Tuesday at the commander In chief's racially mixed heritage when he said in part during an interview, “He was, you know, raised white.” In the same interview, when asked if he thought Trump — who called for a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. — was a racist, Carson replied by saying, “I have not witnessed anything that would make me say that about him.”
Kasich, who, like Carson, has been under growing pressure to suspend his campaign, admitted Tuesday he's not sure if being in the White House is his calling.
“I’ve gotta tell you, whether I’m president or whether I am not president, OK, I’m carrying out my mission, don’t you think? Doesn’t it sound like I am? And that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do in life,” he said during a town hall event in Kennesaw, Georgia, reported Politico.