Update, Feb. 24, 2:15 a.m. ET: Donald Trump might have described Ted Cruz’s “third-place win” speech as “sad.” The Texas senator didn’t really discuss his less-than-stellar finish in Nevada, instead attempting to frame his victory in Iowa three contests ago as a sign that he’s the only remaining Republican candidate who could beat Trump. “The role of the first four primaries historically is to narrow the field,” Cruz said. “History teaches us that nobody has ever won the nomination without winning one of the first three primaries. And there are only two people who have won one of the first three primaries. Donald Trump and us. The only campaign that can beat Donald Trump is this campaign.”
At this point, Cruz might have a stronger case than Marco Rubio, who went to bed without giving a speech. Which is what we’re going to do now. Thanks for following our live-blog. God bless/save Nevada/America. Read Josh Voorhees on what Trump’s victory means for all of us here.
Update, Feb. 24, 1:32 a.m. ET: Donald Trump's victory speech felt more triumphal than usual, which is to be expected given his surprisingly large margin of victory and that this was his third straight win. He touted the numbers that we mentioned earlier in this post, citing a different number that apparently showed him winning 46 percent of Republican Latino voters in Nevada. He was also very proud to claim the support of uneducated voters (emphasis mine):
We won the evangelicals. We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated. We're the smartest people, we're the most loyal people. You know what I really am happy about, because I've been saying it for a long time, 46 percent with the Hispanics, 46 percent, No. 1 with Hispanics. I'm really happy about that.
Trump also touted his leading poll numbers in several critical upcoming states, taunted pundits for not foreseeing his rise, and predicted that he may wrap up the Republican nomination sooner than even those who have come to accept that he is the front-runner believe. “It’s going to be an amazing two months," he said of the upcoming contests on the nominating calendar. "We might not even need the two months, to be honest.”
Finally, Trump nodded at least a little bit to policy, noting his idea to build a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border and get the Mexican government to pay for it and criticizing Obama's plan to close the prison in Guantánamo Bay, which was announced on Tuesday. “We’re going to keep Gitmo open," he said. “We’re going to load it up with a lot of bad dudes out there.”
He sent another message to Republican voters, who may soon find themselves forced to rally behind the former Celebrity Apprentice host en masse: “You’re going to be proud of your president, and you’re going to be even prouder of your country, OK?”
Update, Feb. 24, 12:49 a.m. ET: We are starting to get some returns along with some interesting entrance polls. With 11 percent of the vote in, Trump is at 44.4 percent. Rubio is running in second with 24.3 percent, and the big loser tonight is Ted Cruz, who looks likely to claim bronze and is currently at 21.2 percent. John Kasich, for what it's worth, is looking like he may finish dead last and is currently at 3.6 percent behind Ben Carson's 6.1 percent, which would be good for fourth.
As for the entrance polls: Trump won groups of voters across the board, including ones you would expect him not to win. For example, according to the CNN entrance poll, Latinos backed Trump by 44 percent, with Rubio in second among that group with 29 percent and fellow Cuban-American U.S. senator Ted Cruz claiming 18 percent in third. This campaign started last year with Trump being fired from NBC for saying things about Mexican immigrants like, "They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
In a CBS entrance poll, meanwhile, 45 percent of women who were surveyed supported Trump, to 27 percent for Rubio, and 18 percent for Cruz. Trump, as Megyn Kelly noted in the first Republican debate of this election cycle, has described women as "fat pigs," "dogs," "slobs," and "disgusting animals."
Update, Feb. 24, 12:02 a.m. ET: CNN, Fox News and MSNBC are all projecting that Donald Trump has won the Nevada caucus.
He has now won the last three Republican nominating contests. This thing is starting to seem like it's not just a fluke.
Update, 11:57 p.m. ET: First caucus results are about to come in. CBS's entrance poll has 61 percent of Nevada Republicans saying that they "want an outsider to be the next president." This seems like very good news for one Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, Trump made a surprise pop-in at a caucus site earlier tonight and interrupted a speech by Glenn Beck, who supports Trump rival Ted Cruz. Here is what Glenn Beck looks like these days:
Update, 11:05 p.m. ET: A tweet has been going around that shows a caucus worker in Trump gear, which would seem like a potential conflict of interest.
Nevada Republican officials, though, say there's nothing improper about it.
It's not against the rules for volunteers to wear candidate gear. Volunteers went through extensive training & are doing a great job— Nevada GOP (@NVGOP) February 24, 2016
Update, 10:45 p.m. ET: Oh, come on.
CNN reporter: “The Cruz campaign is telling me they’ll be happy with a third-place win.”— Brett LoGiurato (@BrettLoGiurato) February 24, 2016
Update, 10:15 p.m. ET: Here are some facts about Nevada's capital, Carson City.
- It's not that big. Population 55,000ish.
- It was settled by white people in the 1850s. (Las Vegas wasn't founded until 1905.)
- It does have casinos.
- It's named after this guy.
- Its top-rated dining option on Yelp is a nice-looking Thai spot called the Basil Restaurant.
- If you enter "where to get your party on in Carson City, Nevada" one of Google's suggestions is the Dollar Tree dollar store.
Carson City: A fine American city.
Update, 9:40 p.m. ET: Nevada's governor is caucusing for Rubio, it looks like, but says it doesn't count as a full endorsement.
Here's a recent-ish update on the Yucca Mountain situation, which is a dispute between Nevada and the federal government that's literally been going on since 1987. 1987!
Update, 9:10 p.m. ET: As we wait for entrance poll results and other hot caucus gossip to start emerging, it's worth looking back at Nevada's 2010 Senate election, in which the state's Republican nominee was Sharron Angle—a Tea Party-backed candidate with a penchant for off-the-wall reactionary rhetoric that in retrospect seems very Trumpian. Among Angle's notable moments:
- Insinuating that an armed insurrection against the government might be necessary
- Claiming that "the terrorists" are infiltrating the United States through our "porous" Canadian border
- Answering an abortion-related question about a hypothetical girl who'd been raped and impregnated by her father by suggesting that "a lemon situation" could be made "into lemonade"
- Telling Latino high school students that her anti-immigration ads weren't racist against Latinos because the students seemed Asian to her. (I know this doesn't make sense, but it's what happened.)
Angle lost to Harry Reid in the general election by five points. She doesn't appear to have personally endorsed anyone before today's caucus, but a Tea Party group that she leads endorsed Ted Cruz in September 2015.
Original post, 7:43 p.m. ET: Greetings, humans! This is where we'll be posting running updates tonight (and possibly early tomorrow morning) about the Nevada Republican caucuses, which get underway at 8 p.m. ET, which is 5 p.m. local time and "I don't know what day it is, I had four complimentary Jack and Cokes for breakfast, and I'm fairly certain I'm legally bankrupt" in casino time.
As it happens, casino bankruptcy expert Donald Trump is expected to be tonight's big winner, as he's leading the two most recent state polls by wide margins; as Slate campaign blogger Josh Voorhees explained today, though, Nevada is a notoriously difficult state to pol,l and the caucus format could hurt Trump's turnout.
BTW, if you were looking for our Nevada cactus live-blog and came to our caucus live-blog by mistake, click here.
Let's roll the dice on America's future, shall we?