The Republican Party were left stunned as Donald Trump cemented his place as front runner in the race to lead the party into the Presidential elections with victory in the South Carolina caucus.
Trump followed on from his victory in New Hampshire and close second place to Ted Cruz in Iowa by scoring a decisive victory over his rivals in South Carolina. Significantly, Cruz, formerly the favorite of the established Republican party candidates, was beaten into third place and looks to have been overtaken by Marco Rubio as the main challenger to party outsider Trump’s bid to be the Republican Presidential candidate.
The results in South Carolina are more significant than those in the states who elected earlier due to a peculiarity in the primary electoral system, which allows each state to decide how to distribute their allocation of delegates. Both Iowa and New Hampshire use proportional representation, meaning that before the South Carolina primary, Trump led the Republican party nomination race with 17 of the 53 delegates already voted for. Ted Cruz was in second place with 11 delegates, and Marco Rubio was in third with 10 delegates from the 53. The remaining 15 were split between the other party candidates, which included Jeb Bush, brother of the last Republican President, George W. Bush.
The South Carolina primary uses a hybrid system to allocate delegates, a system which has massively benefited Trump in the race for the Republican party nomination. At the time of writing Trump has been confirmed as winner with 32.5 percent of the votes, slightly less than a third of the vote, yet he has received all 44 of the delegates declared, according to CNN. With six more delegates left to be allocated, it still means that Trump has won a hugely disproportionate amount of delegates from the Republican vote. He currently has 61 of the 97 delegates decided between the three states declared with a popular vote of under 30 percent.
The results in South Carolina have led to Jeb Bush confirming he is withdrawing from the race to be the next Republican president. Although he is yet to support another candidate, it seems likely that he will through his support behind his former protégé, Marco Rubio. The senator’s political career with the Republican party was nurtured in Florida by Jeb Bush, and if Rubio does get support from Bush, it will further strengthen his position as the Republican party establishment’s preferred candidate.
For Rubio, there is still lot to work for. Trump may currently have a lead of over 50 delegates in the race for the Republican party nomination, but it is the first candidate to reach 1,144 delegates to secure the presidential nomination. The race still has a long way to run. However, at the moment, Trump is gathering momentum. He is virtually guaranteed to win the next primary in Nevada, where he currently enjoys a 30-point lead in the polls. That means Trump is likely to go into Super Tuesday on March 1 with a dominant lead in the party nominations. More worrying for his opponents within the Republican Party is the fact that Trump is currently leading in virtually all of the 13 regions that will be voting on Super Tuesday. He may well head into the latter parts of the race with a nearly unassailable lead.
The momentum that Trump is developing amongst Republican voters seems to be trampling all before him, with David Millard commenting as follows in the Telegraph.
“Somehow his popularity appears undimmed despite a series of gaffes from an intemperate spat with the right wing broadcaster, Fox News and one of its leading anchors, Megyn Kelly, to boasting he could shoot people in Fifth Avenue and still lead the polls.”
Elsewhere, Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in the Nevada primary for the Democratic party, a result which places her in a strong position to lead the Democrats into the presidential elections later this year.
Whoever is the next POTUS, Donald Trump has certainly shaken up the Republican Party, and the establishment is going to have to adapt to Trump’s new world order.
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