Trump takes clear lead in nine states ahead of vote
Published 23/02/2016 | 02:30
Donald Trump is ahead in three quarters of the next dozen states to vote in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, including Nevada, which makes its choice today.
Of the 11 states voting in the crucial 'Super Tuesday' on March 1, latest polls showed the billionaire with seemingly insurmountable margins in Massachusetts, Alabama and Vermont, with narrower advantages in Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Alaska.
"Trump, amazingly, is in a commanding position to become the Republican presidential nominee," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Centre for Politics.
"If someone is going to beat Trump then Senator Marco Rubio probably has the best shot but the hour is growing late. You have to start winning, but where?"
Mr Trump won easy victories in the previous two states to vote, South Carolina and New Hampshire.
As the candidates arrived in Nevada, the property mogul said he could "run the table". But he added: "You can always be stopped. I have competitors who are very smart people."
Mr Rubio claimed 70pc of Republicans would never vote for Mr Trump and, as others dropped out, it would become a two-person race that he would win by "uniting the party".
Latest polls in Nevada showed Mr Trump with a lead of at least 16 points over Mr Rubio and Senator Ted Cruz. But polls in the state are notoriously unreliable due to the transient working population in the main city, Las Vegas.
Mr Rubio, the 44-year-old from Florida, believed he could upset the predictions, partly because he spent six years in Las Vegas as a child.
During his childhood Mr Rubio and his family also briefly became Mormons, and members of the religion make up one quarter of the Republicans expected to vote in Nevada.
Ted Cruz, the Texan senator, was focusing his campaign on rural areas ahead of the vote.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton overcame a strong surge by rival Bernie Sanders to capture Nevada's Democratic caucuses on Saturday, easing the anxiety of some of her supporters.
Mrs Clinton won the backing of voters who said electability and experience were important in their vote.
She capitalised on a more diverse Democratic electorate who helped her rebound after a second-place finish to Sanders in the New Hampshire primary.
"Some may have doubted us, but we never doubted each other," Clinton told her cheering supporters during a victory rally in Las Vegas. But Mr Sanders claimed his campaign had an electoral wind at its back.
Mrs Clinton's next test will be in the Democrats' South Carolina primary on Saturday.