Donald Trump won the Nevada caucuses on Wednesday, the latest step in the tycoon’s seemingly unerring march to the Republican Party's presidential nomination.
The 69-year-old celebrity builder, who announced his White House bid from the bottom of a gold escalator in New York in June, adds Nevada to previous victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Trump placed a close second to Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses at the beginning of the month.
Continuing to tap into working class fears about terrorism, immigration and the economy, Trump surged to a convincing projected win, much to the delight of his fanatical supporters gathered in the ballroom at the Treasure Island casino off the famous Vegas strip.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles as he greets voters at a caucus site Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Las Vegas
“We love Nevada. We love Nevada. Thank you. Thank you,” Trump said during his victory speech. “This is a great place. Thank you.”
Responding to President Obama's Tuesday overture to close the detention centre in Cuba, Trump said: “[We're] gonna keep Guantanamo open, we’re going to fill it with bad dudes."
"Mexico is going to build the wall,” he added before thanking those responsible for his Nevada win. “I love the evangelicals,” he said “We did well with the poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.”
Amid a huge voter turnout, there were reports of chaos at many of the caucus meetings with poll workers running out of ballots and even polls workers – those organising the ballots – wearing clothing in support of specific candidates. There were also reports of voter identifications not being checked, and even double voting, however Republican Party officials said there were no voting irregularities.
The process for the Republican Nevada caucuses required voters to mark their preferred candidate on a secret ballot, which were then counted. The state has 30 delegates up for grabs, which are distributed proportionally according to where candidates finish in the caucuses.
Crowds of people line up to get a ballot at a Republican caucus site, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Las Vegas
To become the eventual GOP nominee, a candidate must amass delegates from across the states with the aim of reaching a preponderance of 1,237 ahead of the Republican convention in July.
Trump went into the caucuses with a huge lead in the polls, leaving Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio scrambling for second place. Ohio Governor John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson make up the remaining Republican field.
The next test for the candidates is the vital Super Tuesday contest on March 1, when 13 states across the country vote in nine primaries and four caucuses within 24 hours.