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Nevada caucus results: AP projects Mitt Romney victory

at 10:12 PM ET, 02/04/2012

No surprise: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is the overwhelming victor in Nevada’s caucuses with 47.6 percent of the vote, supported by a politically-active Mormon base but dominating across demographic groups.

About a quarter of the electorate was Mormon — the same as in 2008, when Romney won with 51 percent of the vote. But Romney also beat Gingrich with evangelical voters, according to entrance polls.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich was a distant second with 22.7 percent of the vote.Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) outperformed polls, but still finished a disappointing third at 18.6 percent despite focusing intently on the state. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum came in fourth with 11.1 percent of the vote.

While most caucuses were finished Saturday afternoon, start times are staggered. One caucus in Clark County didn’t start until 7 p.m. local time, for Orthodox Jews observing the Sabbath.

Perhaps in acknowledgement of Romney’s dominance in the state, Gingrich held a press conference rather than a traditional party. “I’m not going to withdraw,” he declared in the bizarre event. “I’m actually pretty happy with where we are.”

According to the New York Times, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a major Gingrich supporter, has sent assurances to Romney that he will be even more generous to him if he’s the nominee.

As in Florida, Romney won the voters who considered electability, strong moral character or the right experience the most important candidate qualities. He fared poorly with those who wanted a “true conservative.”

Pauloutperformed with self-described independents (caucus-goers must be registered Republicans.)

 
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