Trump wins South Carolina

Greg Nash

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump to meet with Senate GOP next week Woman pushes Trump to ban Muslims from TSA Trump camp eyeing Mike Pence for VP: report MORE has won South Carolina’s primary, solidifying his status as the front-runner to win the Republican presidential nomination.

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With back-to-back victories under his belt in New Hampshire and South Carolina, Trump heads to Nevada as the heavy favorite. Early polls Trump holds a 20-point lead in the polls over the next closest contender in the Silver State.

No winner of both the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries has lost the nomination.

But the race now is for second place.

With 22 percent of precincts reporting, Ted CruzTed CruzTrump to meet with Senate GOP next week Trump camp eyeing Mike Pence for VP: report First trans Senate candidate: My gender won’t be an issue MORE and Marco RubioMarco RubioPoll: Rubio holds massive lead in primary Rubio: Turkey attack 'directed' by ISIS Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office MORE are fighting neck-and-neck for second place and third place, while Jeb Bush appears headed for a distant fourth-place finish. The former Florida governor, who bragged that South Carolina was "Bush country," is only 0.3 percentage points ahead of John Kasich, who placed second in New Hampshire and wasn't expected to do well in the Palmetto State. 

Cruz and Rubio have been attacking each other fiercely, and now their battle will turn to who is best-positioned to take out Trump. 

Expectations will be high for Cruz heading into the Super Tuesday contests on March 1. Cruz has consistently outperformed his standing in the polls and is believed to have the best organization of any candidate in the Deep South. 

Rubio has an uphill climb in the fight against Cruz, as Cruz has already won the Iowa caucuses, while Rubio has yet to win a contest. He will have to overcome the notion that he’s merely a media darling and establishment fantasy who has failed to deliver on his potential. 

The billionaire businessman scored a huge victory on Saturday. Based on his current margins, Trump is on pace to win all of South Carolina’s 50 delegates, who are awarded statewide and by congressional district.

His victory comes despite defying conventional wisdom at every turn.  

In the final days before the South Carolina primary, Trump publicly feuded with the Pope, and it was revealed that he once supported the war in Iraq. Trump has consistently made the case that he was one of the Iraq War's earliest and most vociferous opponents.

Furthermore, at a debate in Greenville last week, Trump trashed the legacy of former President George W. Bush, who remains popular in the state.

But as has become customary, none of those perceived missteps mattered as Trump posted what looks like a runaway victory.

Nevada, where GOP voters will caucus on Tuesday, could be Rubio’s chance to break out. Rubio spent part of his youth in the Silver State and has separated himself from the rest of the establishment pack, which also includes Bush and Kasich.

Bush now has some difficult questions to answer. 

He poured significant resources into South Carolina and brought in his big guns in South Carolina — former President Bush, former first lady Barbara Bush and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamOvernight Defense: US blames ISIS for Turkey attack | Afghan visas in spending bill | Army rolls up its sleeves Senate panel passes bill that would create 4K visas for Afghans Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office MORE — to no avail. 

Bush has the money and the name recognition to go on, but there will be considerable pressure for him to drop out to pave the way for Rubio.

Kasich is charting a course through the Midwest and the Northeast, although few believe that path will take him to the nomination. 

Ben Carson appears headed for his second consecutive last place finish and is fighting for relevancy. His fundraising has dried up and the expectation is that he will drop out soon, although he has vowed to carry on. 

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