A Romney victory here was never really in doubt; he took the state in the 2008 cycle with 51 percent of the vote.
But Nevada awards delegates proportionally, so there’s competition beyond the top vote getter. And if former House speaker Newt Gingrich can double former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s support while holding Romney below 50 percent, it could help bolster his argument that this is a two-man race.
Romney takes 45 percent of Nevada Republicans who plan to caucus in the Las Vegas Review-Journal poll. Gingrich comes in second with 25 percent of the vote, doing best with those who identify as tea party members.
Santorum is in third with 11 percent, while Texas Rep. Ron Paul, despite years of organizing efforts in the state, comes in fourth with 9 percent.
Nine percent of voters are still undecided; Gingrich would have to win half of them to make a notable dent in Romney’s lead.
(No word on whether any endorsement by Donald Trump would change those numbers).
Mormons make up the core of Romney’s support; although they make up only 7 percent of the state population, they are expected to caucus at far higher levels. In 2008, Mormons made up a quarter of caucus-goers. But Romney also beats his rivals with other Christian denominations.
Unlike Florida, Nevada does not have a large Hispanic Republican population. Only 5.4 percent of likely caucus-goers described themselves as Hispanic.