Trump and Clinton win states, Bush taps out
THE victories of United States billionaire Donald Trump and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in their respective parties' latest votes in the presidential election nominations have positioned them for another but even more crucial win in the March 1 Super Tuesday primaries, the local media reported.
With 99 per cent of precincts in South Carolina state reporting, Mr Trump won 32.5 per cent of the Republican votes on Saturday, followed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio with 22.5 per cent and Texas Senator Ted Cruz with 22.3 per cent, Reuters reported.
The contest also saw former Florida governor Jeb Bush, from a family that had produced two presidents, drop out after finishing fourth.
Mr Bush had also finished badly in the first two states that had voted - Iowa and New Hampshire.
Mr Trump's victory won him at least 44 of South Carolina's 50 delegates, bringing his delegate count to 61.
Mr Cruz has secured 11 and Mr Rubio 10, according to Real Clear Politics, a polling data aggregator.
Republicans need 1,237 delegates to win the party nomination in July.
According to the Vox news website, Mr Trump, a 69-year-old anti-establishment candidate who has won in New Hampshire, is well-positioned for a big delegate haul across the south and a few north-eastern states on Super Tuesday.
"It's going to be very difficult for him to be derailed at this point," said Hogan Gidley, a senior adviser to a former Republican candidate.
Meanwhile, Mrs Clinton's victory in the Nevada Democratic caucuses on Saturday - after a narrow win in Iowa and a defeat by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire - could help calm worries in the Democratic establishment about the strength of her campaign.
With 90 per cent of precincts reporting in Nevada, the former first lady led with 52.6 per cent of the vote to Mr Sanders' 47.4 per cent.
Her result denied Mr Sanders the breakthrough win he had sought in a state with a heavy minority population.
Entrance polling in Nevada showed Mr Sanders lost badly among black voters, by 76 per cent to 22 per cent, a bad omen for his next contest in South Carolina on Saturday and other southern states with big black populations.
Mr Sanders vowed to fight on and set his sights on the 11 states that vote on Super Tuesday.
According to The New York Times, as Mr Sanders could not win over voters in an economically troubled state such as Nevada, he might have a hard time selling his democratic socialist programme in other parts of the country.
Mrs Clinton's campaign, on the other hand, has argued she would assert control of the Democratic race once it moved to more diverse states with black and Hispanic populations.
But a narrowing gap in polls between Mr Sanders and the leading Mrs Clinton suggests the Democratic race will be long and hard-fought.