Romney wins big in NV: Still can't crack 50%
As expected, Mitt Romney parlayed a big turnout among the significant Mormon population in Nevada into an easy win over Newt Gingrich in the Nevada caucuses.
With the slow as molasses Nevada GOP counting process, as of this writing, with 71% of the precincts reporting, Romney leads Gingrich 48 to 23 with Ron Paul at 21% and Santorum coming in last with 11%.
Fox News is reporting that the entrance polls show Romney doing slightly better with conservatives:
Mitt Romney rode overwhelming backing from Mormons and his best performance yet among conservatives to his emphatic victory Saturday in Nevada's Republican presidential contest, according to preliminary results of a poll of voters entering the caucuses.
Buoyed by near monolithic support from Mormons, the former Massachusetts governor won a broad and deep victory. He was the clear winner among every age group except for those under 30, with all but the lowest-earning voters and across all levels of education.
Romney captured the votes of just over half of conservatives, more than doubling the number who backed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an ominous result for the man who has emerged as Romney's chief rival.
In the four previous states that have held GOP presidential contests, Romney had won no more than about 4 in 10 conservative votes, in New Hampshire and Florida. Underscoring the importance of the Mormon vote, Romney's support Saturday among conservatives who are not Mormon was in that same 4 in 10 range.
For the first time, Romney took half the votes of tea party supporters, with Mormons once again pushing his margin higher than before.
One in 4 voters Saturday was Mormon, Romney's religion, and 9 in 10 of them backed him. They provided him with more than 4 in 10 of his votes on Saturday. Each of his rivals received 1 in 10 or less of their votes from Mormons.
Sorry, Mitt, but this isn't quite the impressive win you would like us to think. You still can't crack 50% even in a much reduced field, and there will be no other states except Utah where Mormons will make up such a large percentage of your vote.
All the entrance poll mumbo jumbo comes down to the fact that your increased tea party and conservative support came largely from the outsized Mormon vote.
Next up: Tuesday caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado as well as a non-binding, non delegate beauty contest primary in Missouri.