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Mitt Romney Secures Victory in Nevada Caucuses


CNN has projected and The Associated Press reports that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has secured a convincing victory in Nevada's Republican presidential caucuses Saturday. The win makes back-to-back state victories for Romney following his strong performance in the Florida Republican primary on January 31st. Romney is the first Republican candidate of the 2012 primary season to win two states in a row.

The former Massachusetts governor held a double-digit lead over his nearest pursuer as the totals mounted in a state where AP notes that fellow Mormons accounted for roughly a quarter of all caucus-goers.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul are still fighting for a distant second. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum trails the field.

UPDATE (10:54 p.m.)

POLITICO reports that the Romney campaign has emailed reporters a reminder that the former Massachusetts governor's victory in Nevada Saturday was representative of more than just the state's large LDS population. Team Romney's bullet points:

  • Just like Florida, Nevada’s exit polls showed a very broad victory for Mitt Romney.

  • Mitt Romney won among conservatives, Tea Party members, women, men, low income, high income, etc.

  • Mitt Romney won a majority of “very conservative” voters (51%). He defeated Newt Gingrich (40-31%) among strong Tea Party voters. He won 48% of the vote among evangelicals (48 – 27%) over Newt Gingrich.

  • Like Florida, Mitt Romney won handily among voters who said electability was the most important quality in a candidate.

  • Like Florida, Mitt Romney won handily among voters who said the economy is the top issue.

  • LDS voters make up 26% of the caucus votes. Even without the LDS votes, Mitt Romney still would have won decisively (by 17 points).

  • While Mitt Romney won a majority of the LDS vote, he won among Protestants, Catholics and everybody else by wide margins.

The Associated Press notes that LDS voters made up about one-quarter of the electorate in Nevada, and among them, more than 9 in 10 backed Romney. Among all non-LDS, Romney carried about 4 in 10 votes. AP reports that Romney won a narrow victory among Catholics but only 4 in 10 Protestants. Paul carried the vote among nonreligious caucus-goers, winning nearly 60 percent.

(11:05 p.m.)

Following another well-received introduction by his wife Ann Romney, former Massachusetts governor addressed supporters celebrating the Romney campaign's victory in Nevada Saturday night.

"This is not the first time you’ve given me your vote of confidence, and this time, I’m going to take it to the White House," Romney opened over chants of "Mitt, Mitt, Mitt."

Romney focused his speech almost entirely on contrasting his record with President Obama, rather than the remaining Republican candidates for president.

Romney noted Nevada's staggering 12 percent unemployment, advising that voters not jump to conclusions in regards to a recent uptick in the economy.

"This week he's been trying to take a bow for 8.3 percent unemployment. Not so fast, Mr. President," said Romney. "This is the 36th straight month with unemployment above the red line your own administration drew."

Transcript of Romney's complete prepared remarks from Saturday night.

(11:27 p.m.)

Returns from 14 of 17 counties showed Romney with 42 percent support, Gingrich with 25 percent, Paul with 20 percent and Santorum with 13 percent.

According to the AP count, Romney began the day with 87 of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination. Gingrich had 26, Santorum 14 and Paul 4.

(11:49 p.m.)

Video of Romney's remarks Saturday night

This is breaking news, updates to follow.

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