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The broad support behind Trump’s Nevada win should terrify the Republican establishment

Supporters cheer while waiting for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino on February 23, 2016, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Supporters cheer while waiting for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino on February 23, 2016, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Donald Trump won yet another smashing victory in Nevada last night, crushing Marco Rubio by 22 points with voters across the ideological spectrum, and even with Hispanics.

Trump won Hispanic voters, with 45 percent breaking in his favor, roughly the same percentage that went for Rubio and Ted Cruz combined (28 percent and 18 percent, respectively.)

Trump’s victory was propelled by a broad coalition of voters, including evangelicals, voters without a college education, and people who said they were looking for a candidate outside the Republican establishment.

Trump appealed to voters across the ideological spectrum. He won 38 percent of people who describe themselves as "very conservative," beating Cruz in Cruz’s own territory. And he also led among voters who describe themselves as "somewhat conservative" and even "moderate." Rubio came in second with both those groups.

Exit polls are notoriously inaccurate in low-turnout contests, particularly in measuring minority support. Even so, the broad scope of Trump’s victory paints a dire picture for Republican establishment types hoping his support can be confined to a particular demographic or corner of the country. His big win in the last state before Super Tuesday doesn’t bode well.

This is Trump’s third blowout win, and his previous victories demonstrate the breadth of his appeal. In New Hampshire Trump won independent voters, and in South Carolina he also swept evangelicals, a huge proportion of that state’s Republican electorate.

Trump’s support among evangelical voters in Nevada was particularly noteworthy. A large proportion of the electorate ID’d themselves as evangelical, 39 percent compared with 28 percent in 2012. And Trump won four in 10 of those voters, an even stronger victory than in South Carolina. Those wins imperil Ted Cruz, who has staked his campaign on strong evangelical turnout.

And, following a pattern seen in other contests, Trump performed best among voters without a college degree, but even more-educated voters still broke in his favor, if with a smaller margin. Thirty-seven percent of voters with a postgraduate degree voted for Trump, with 31 percent casting ballots for Rubio.


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