UPDATED with video and final numbers: The Grand Old Party establishment wakes up Wednesday to its nightmare in which Donald “My-people-will-not-leave-me-under-any-circumstances-including-murder” Trump cannot be stopped, having bagged his third consecutive victory in early derbies.
The former reality-TV star and beauty pageant owner handily won the Nevada GOP caucus with 46% of the votes – the first time Trump has taken a state with more than 40%, making all those TV news pundits who insisted he had capped out in the 30%-range look pretty foolish. Tonight’s win follows Trump primary victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
“We weren’t expected a couple months ago to win this one,” an elated Trump said as he began his victory lap. “Of course, if you listen to the pundits, we weren’t expected to win too much and now we’re winning, winning, winning the country. And soon, the country is going to start winning, winning, winning!”
“We won the evangelicals. We won with young, with old, with highly educated, with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated!” continued Trump, whose prose style seems to have been modeled on that of Rabelais. “And you know what I really am happy about? Forty-six percent with Hispanics – No. 1 with Hispanics!…I love the country. We are going in the wrong directions. We’re going to keep Gitmo and load it up with lots of bad dudes out there…We’re going to be the smart people, we’re not going to be the people that get pushed around. You’re going to be proud of your president, and you’re going to be even prouder of your country.”
The speech left on-air talent at some TV news operations looking like characters in a Greek tragedy pursued by the Fates. “If you would have told me…a year ago that there would be a billionaire reality TV star who would go in front of the Nevada electorate and talk about ‘winning’ and say that he’s so happy because ‘I love the poorly educated’ I would have told you you were nuts, especially given that he is an Ivy League guy. But that is what’s happening right now,” CNN’s Dana Bash told Jake Tapper somberly. Earlier in the evening, with only very preliminary stats, Bash reported, “Already tonight we’re seeing that the Republicans here in Washington are kind of moving their way through the stages of grief, realizing thatWashington, and more importantly the Republican party as they knew it, is never going to be the same.”
Marco “Your-only-hope-of-stopping-Trump” Rubio scored 24%.
Ted “I’m-not-willing-to-gamble-my-daughter’s-future-on-this-guy” Cruz limped off with 21%.
Ben “Obama-was-raised-white” Carson logged just 5%.
John “Waiting-for-the-Midwest-votes” Kasich another 4%.
TV talking heads sensed where the night was headed when news broke that the number of first-time voters who’d just registered in Nevada walking up to tonight’s caucus exceeded the number of already registered GOP voters in 2012 or ’08. New voters would favor the real estate mogul turned TV star, pundits forecast.
Even so, TV’s early on-scene coverage from the caucus sites began with all the excitement of a quilting club meeting. Except, maybe, when MSNBC got lucky and happened to have a camera crew and reporter present when Trump crashed a caucus site where Glenn Beck was bloviating for Cruz:
And CNN, which had killed time waiting for Nevada results with yet another town hall ratings play, got a big laugh when Bernie Sanders answered a question about the GOP with the crack, “boy, would a psychoanalyst have an interesting time with Donald Trump.”
Nevada caucus day began auspiciously for the news industry when Trump gave a headline-grabbing rally speech in Sparks, hours before the voting started, in which he beamed at his followers, saying, “Even the really dishonest press says Trump’s people are the most incredible. Sixty-eight percent would not leave under any circumstance. I think that means murder. I think it means anything.”
Later in the day, as caucusing got under way, Trump took to Twitter to warn these faithful: