Donald Trump will win the South Carolina Republican primary, according to multiple news organizations. Fox News, CNN, and NBC News have all called Trump the winner of the contest, based on projections.
The final tally isn't in yet, but it looks likely that Trump's win will be smaller than the 10-point-plus lead he'd posted in some polls leading up to the race.
Trump's win, combined with his strong showings in both Iowa, where he came in second, but garnered more votes than any GOP candidate in history save for the victor, Ted Cruz, and New Hampshire, where he easily beat the competition, makes it clear that Trump is a dominant force in the GOP primary race.
Indeed, Donald Trump is by any measure the clear favorite to win the GOP nomination.
He leads in national polls, and no GOP candidate who has won both New Hampshire and South Carolina has failed to go on to win the nomination. Trump has effectively taken over the Republican party.
In the very short term, the most pressing question is how his rivals respond. Jeb Bush, whose campaign has disappointed throughout the race, is on track to post a disappointing fourth place finish. His SuperPAC, Right to Rise, which raised more than $100 million, has seen donations fall to essentially nothing and now has just $2.5 million left in the bank. It seems quite probable—though not certain—that he will drop out of the race in short order.
John Kasich will stay in, insisting, implausibly, that he still has a chance to win.
That leaves Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who are expected to finish in second and third place, as Trump's main challengers. Both are focused most on becoming Trump's sole challenger, and consolidating the anti-Trump support in the party, and so both are likely to intensify attacks on each other, as well as on Trump. The GOP race, already rough in tone, is likely to get even more raucous.
Cruz and Rubio will have a tough time, though, with history against them, the near certainty of fierce mudslinging from all sides, and Trump's frontrunner momentum propelling his campaign. At this point both are facing uphill battles—and Rubio in particular, who has vocal backers in the party establishment but has struggled in actual voting contests, looks like a long-shot to win.
Which means that, over the next days and weeks and months, the Republican party had better begin to reconcile itself to the likely outcome of the primary race, and start seriously thinking about what it means that the GOP has become the Party of Donald Trump.