Republican Donald Trump romps home to victory in South Carolina
Republican Donald Trump romped to victory in South Carolina, the third nominating contest of the US presidential race, on a night that ended the presidential hopes of the party’s one-time favourite Jeb Bush.
In the latest Democratic contest for the White House, Hillary Clinton scored a narrow but vital win in the Nevada caucuses over Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in a far closer-than-expected test.
The victories by Mr Trump, who is running as an anti-establishment outsider, and Ms Clinton, a preeminent political insider, solidified their positions as the front-runners to win their parties' respective nominations ahead of the 8 November US presidential election.
The night's most prominent casualty, Mr Bush suffered a distant fourth place finish in the Republican contest and announced he had suspended his campaign, ending his dream of becoming a third Bush president after his father and brother.
"The people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken, and I really respect their decision," an emotional Mr Bush said in Columbia.
He finished far out of the running in each of the first three states.
By winning both South Carolina and New Hampshire and holding leads in 13 states that hold Republican contests on 1 March, Mr Trump was arguably on track to win the nomination, an outcome that seemed astounding to contemplate when he entered the race last summer.
"It's going to be very difficult for him to be derailed at this point," said Hogan Gidley, who was a senior adviser to former Republican candidate Mike Huckabee.
The 69-year-old real estate billionaire and reality TV star was declared the winner in South Carolina about an hour after polls closed, and launched into a feisty victory speech.
"Let's put this thing away," Mr Trump told cheering supporters in Spartanburg.
Former Secretary of State Clinton's victory in the Nevada Democratic caucuses, meanwhile, could help calm worries among the Democratic establishment about the strength of her campaign.
Ms Clinton's victory gave her fresh momentum as she heads into the next contest in South Carolina on 27 February, where polls show her with a double-digit lead largely as a result of heavy support from black voters.
Ms Clinton's campaign has argued she would assert control of the Democratic race once it moved to more diverse states with black and Hispanic populations who have traditionally backed Ms Clinton and have been slow to warm to Mr Sanders