Donald Trump has claimed another major victory, this time in the Nevada caucus of the Republican presidential race.
Questions over whether he could appeal to a broader electorate than that of his wins in New Hampshire and South Carolina were quashed, as he near-doubled the vote of his nearest rival Marco Rubio.
Mr Trump’s successes in spite of a string of deeply worrying public statements have raised alarms among international observers, so we asked a couple of academics at Oxford’s Rothermere American Institute – can the billionaire businessman really win the race to the White House?
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
1/14 On Isis:
"Some of the candidates, they went in and didn’t know the air conditioner didn’t work and sweated like dogs, and they didn’t know the room was too big because they didn’t have anybody there. How are they going to beat ISIS?"
2/14 On immigration:
"I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."
3/14 On Free Trade:
"Free trade is terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have stupid people."
PAUL J. RICHARDS | AFP | Getty Images
4/14 On Mexicans:
"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists."
5/14 On China:
"I just sold an apartment for $15 million to somebody from China. Am I supposed to dislike them?... I love China. The biggest bank in the world is from China. You know where their United States headquarters is located? In this building, in Trump Tower."
6/14 On work:
"If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable."
7/14 On success:
"What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate."
8/14 On life:
"Everything in life is luck."
9/14 On ambition:
"You have to think anyway, so why not think big?"
10/14 On his opponents:
"Bush is totally in favour of Common Core. I don't see how he can possibly get the nomination. He's weak on immigration. He's in favour of Common Core. How the hell can you vote for this guy? You just can't do it."
11/14 On Obamacare:
"You have to be hit by a tractor, literally, a tractor, to use it, because the deductibles are so high. It's virtually useless. And remember the $5 billion web site?... I have so many web sites, I have them all over the place. I hire people, they do a web site. It costs me $3."
12/14 On Barack Obama:
"Obama is going to be out playing golf. He might be on one of my courses. I would invite him. I have the best courses in the world. I have one right next to the White House."
13/14 On himself:
"Love him or hate him, Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred. Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money."
14/14 On America:
"The American Dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again."
How likely is it now that Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate?
Dr Nigel Bowles, RAI’s senior research fellow, puts it simply: “Trump is the strong favourite to secure the Republican nomination.”
Dr Ursula Hackett, junior research fellow in US politics at the RAI, says Nevada’s result “does make a Trump candidacy more likely”.
“Opponents of Trump suggest that he has a natural ‘ceiling’ of support and cannot appeal to voters beyond less-educated whites. The Nevada result demonstrates otherwise.
“But Nevada could actually be most significant because of the effect on Ted Cruz. He had really invested in Nevada, and in its wake has received a lot of advice to broaden his support base. If these public queries cause Cruz to falter, Trump’s momentum will increase.”
Is there any way Mr Trump can be stopped?
Dr Hackett: “With just a hundred or so delegates won, and several thousand remaining, this is still early days. Super Tuesday on 1st March will be the big test and we should be cautious about making predictions at this stage.
“It has been said that the natural ‘ceiling’ in Trump support would start to tell, and that maybe there was a limit to the extent he could keep going to media with more and more extreme statements and getting free coverage.
“But that hasn’t happened. Trump said recently he could shoot someone and he wouldn’t lose votes, and at this point it is very difficult to point to any one thing that could derail him.
Dr Bowles: “He could be stopped by either a) His making a grievous tactical error. Or by b) The field narrowing to himself and Rubio, provided that Rubio showed himself able to draw all or almost all of Carson’s and Cruz’s support.
“However, the probability of either event happening is significantly less than 50 per cent.”
Who has a better chance against Mr Trump – Clinton or Sanders?
Dr Bowles: “Clinton would be much the most powerful candidate against Trump provided that her weaknesses and vulnerabilities are contained.”
Dr Hackett: “In a hypothetical general election match-up, Clinton may have the best chance of appealing to moderates against a Trump candidate.
“But the crucial thing in this election will be motivating a turnout amongst your support base.
“Clinton is very provocative to Republicans – they have a negative reaction to her that is almost equal to the negative Democratic reaction against Trump.
“Nonetheless, I still think Clinton has the better chance of beating Trump than Sanders does.”
Can Trump become the next President?
Dr Hackett: “It’s still too early as a political scientist to say whether one candidate or another will win or lose.
“I will go as far as to say Trump has a pathway to the Republican nomination, but I don’t think he has a pathway to the Presidency.
Dr Bowles: “Trump is unlikely to become President of the United States”.Reuse content