Mitt Romney won the Nevada Caucus on Saturday, February 4, 2012, by a significant edge. Establishing his status as the prohibitive front-runner in the 2012 GOP presidential race, he was followed by Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum.
Romney's win in Nevada had a lot had to do with the state having a 7% Mormon population, according to LA Times. "Mormons make up about 7% of Nevada's population. But entrance polls conducted before the vote showed that Mormons made up 26% of the total Republican turnout. Romney won 95% of their votes."
In Florida, Romney's win had a lot to do with strong support from the Catholics and white born-again, evangelical Christians. Those in support of Ron Paul, on the other hand, are more analytical than the other three candidates, more in support of changing a flawed system.
The Nevada Caucus is the third state in the United States overall presidential election process, following Iowa and New Hampshire. However, it is the first election in the West for the United States presidency, which had a lot to do with why its election date was moved.
Longtime Nevada political analyst Jon Ralston said, "The state GOP ceded importance when it moved its caucuses to Feb. 4 rather than ahead of Florida in January. Nevada did so to avoid pushing the presidential contest into December and also to avoid the penalty of losing half its delegates to the national convention."
The rate of population growth in the United States has slowed down in the past ten years to fewer than ten percent --- the slowest rate since the Great Depression. However, the western part of the United States is growing at a rapid rate, overtaking the Midwest by the end of 2010. This includes Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Texas; larger states than in the Midwest region and states that were the last to join the union. Nevada has grown 35.6% in this decade, 66% in the prior decade.
A small state in the western states, most candidates would normally skip it. Politically, representation of the Western states needed an earlier vote, specifically to include Nevada's immense Hispanic population. For this reason, Nevada's election date was moved up and it was placed third to entice candidates.
Nevada has one of the more divided electorates in the country. The caucus has three different levels: the precinct - where any registered voter is allowed to vote; county convention - where delegates are selected among the candidate groups; and the state convention - the Republicans do not have a formal system of allocating presidential candidates, while the Democrats vote their presidential candidate at the county convention.
In Nevada, they have 33 Democratic delegates and 34 Republican delegates, a state that is similar to New Hampshire in its political views. Both states strongly desire each of the four regions in the United States to have full representation --- the West, Midwest, Northeast and South. According to the Nevada Caucus, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid already representing Nevada, for Nevada to represent the West was only logical even though it is considered a "small caucus."
The only hot-seat issue with the Nevada Causus was that after the polls had closed, over 300 voters who were orthodox Jews and Seventh-day Adventists cast their votes after sundown. CBS News reports that the religious voters had to sign an affidavit stating their religious beliefs. Many non-religious voters are crying foul, reserving special voting rights solely for those of certain religions. "It's discrimination," said one Ron Paul supporter who had been turned away from voting.
Another voter who was turned away, also a Ron Paul supporter, said he was fully aware of the special voting rights for religious voters, but "I thought there's no way they're gonna be able to restrict registered Republicans who were not able to vote in the caucus."