Cruz was able to notch a victory over Trump in the first state to voice its opinion, Iowa, but he posted third-place finishes in the next two states.
Rubio, who is averaging third place behind Trump and Cruz in recent national polls, was looking for his first outright win in Nevada: His camp had spun a third-place finish in Iowa and a second-place in South Carolina as signs of momentum.
Additionally, Rubio supporters have expressed hope that Republicans who had been behind Jeb Bush would come to their side after the former Florida governor's exit.
Early entrance poll data indicated that 32 percent of Republican caucus-goers identified as white evangelicals, and 38 percent said they were at least 65 years old, according to NBC News. That's fewer white evangelicals than this year's Iowa caucus and South Carolina primary, but the largest portion above 65 of any Republican test yet.
Additionally, 40 percent of early entrance poll respondents identified as "very conservative," and 43 percent as "somewhat conservative," according to NBC News. Entrance polls also showed that only about 1 percent of Nevada GOP caucus goers said they were black — with 86 percent identifying as white, and 8 percent as Hispanic, NBC News reported. On the education front, 49 percent of entrance poll respondents said they had at least graduated college, while only 12 percent reported high school or less as their education level.
The NBC News entrance poll also found that 61 percent said they wanted the next president to be from outside the political establishment, with only 33 percent saying they prefer a candidate with political experience.