Donald Trump has emerged the decisive winner of Nevada’s Republican caucuses, leaving his main rivals battling for second place.
Mr Trump now has three straight victories – in the West, the South and North east – a testament to his broad appeal among the ‘mad-as-hell’ voters making their voices heard in the 2016 US presidential race.
Six in 10 caucus goers said they were angry with the way the government was working, and Mr Trump scooped about half of those, according to preliminary results of an entrance poll.
Nevada was a critical test for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the two senators battling to emerge as the clear alternative to the Republican front-runner.
Mr Rubio was out to prove he could build on recent momentum, while Mr Cruz was looking for a spark to recover from a particularly rocky stretch in his campaign.
Mr Trump is on a roll after winning primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Mr Cruz won the lead-off Iowa caucuses.
The first test of the west
Nevada marks the first Republican nominating contest in the West and the fourth of the campaign as the candidates try to collect enough delegates to win the party’s nomination at the national convention in July.
Although Nevada has relatively few delegates, it is the first measure of voter sentiment in the vast western region, much as South Carolina was the first glimpse at the South’s preferences last weekend.
Nevada is 28% Latino, 9% Asian-American and leads the nation with the highest rate of people living in the country illegally, according to the Pew Hispanic Centre.
Its immigrant communities – 19% of its population was born outside the United States – have helped turn a once reliably Republican state into one that backed Barack Obama twice. Many analysts attribute that to hardline Republican positions on immigration.