Trump wins South Carolina
© Greg Nash

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open 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 CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers 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 Olin GrahamDurbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration Overnight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement 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.