The 2016 election season continues this weekend as candidates face off in different states across the nation.
The Democratic and Republican nominating contest schedules split on Saturday; the former will be in Nevada for the state's Democratic caucuses — the first in the West — while the latter will be in South Carolina for the state's Republican primary.
In the latest South Carolina poll released by Clemson University on Friday, real estate mogul Donald Trump leads the Republican pack at 28 percent, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in second at 19 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio comes in next at 15 percent, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (10 percent), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (9 percent), and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (6 percent).
The latest national polls tell a slightly different story for Republicans. In the Quinnipiac University poll released on Feb. 17, Trump leads at 39 percent, followed by Rubio (19 percent), Cruz (18 percent), Kasich (6 percent), and finally Bush and Carson who are tied in the last position at 4 percent.
A NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll released the same day has Cruz in first at 28 percent, followed by Trump (26 percent), Rubio (17 percent), Kasich (11 percent), Carson (10 percent), and Bush (4 percent).
Trump is expected to win in South Carolina, which would be a big blow to Bush because it leaves him almost out of the race. If Cruz comes in second, which is the likely scenario at the present time, it is because of the Evangelical vote. Those two, however, may fight for their position until the very end.
Rubio is likely to finish first among the group of establishment candidates — in part because of his improved debate performance and in part because of the jolt South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's endorsement gives him. If he finishes third, as expected, it becomes apparent that the Republican establishment is starting to rally around him as the alternative to the counter candidacies of Trump and Cruz.
In Nevada polls, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by two percentage points, polling at 48.7 percent.
The Quinnipiac University poll demonstrates an even smaller national gap between the two candidates. Clinton leads that poll at 44 percent, with Sanders in second at 42 percent.
In the Democratic contest, the stakes are high for both Clinton and Sanders. Clinton, who won in age brackets over the 45 year mark and in households with a six-figure income, is counting on her support from minorities, specifically African-Americans and Latinos. In 2014, 27.8 percent of Nevada's population was Hispanic, according to the United States Census Bureau.
Clinton is competing with the Vermont senator's ground game — his campaign has 12 field offices in the Silver State — and domination of the young vote. There is a thought that he could come out victorious if he can secure millennial minority votes with the same success he's had among young White voters.
If Sanders is able to defeat Clinton this weekend, it proves that the momentum from New Hampshire is still with him and will continue to be a real factor in the race. It also makes him tougher to beat in the future and makes her even more desperate for a win in South Carolina. Clinton won Nevada, but not South Carolina, in her 2008 run against Barack Obama.