From the Las Vegas Strip to cowboy country, Nevada Republicans bet heavily on Mitt Romney for president. He snared 48 percent of their caucus vote.
The older the voter, the better Romney fared. Among 50- to 64-year-olds, he won 55 percent; among those 65 and older, he won 57 percent.
Mormons made up an outsize proportion of the caucus-goers, and 9 of 10 voted for Romney, a Mormon.
Still, there was a cautionary note for Romney. His share of the vote fell just shy of the 51 percent he won in 2008, giving voice to the Republicans who appear to be searching for an alternative. But the alternatives are looking a little raggedy: Newt Gingrich won only 23 percent of the vote in Nevada, Ron Paul 19 percent and Rick Santorum 11 percent.
The economy, not surprisingly, was the top issue. Nevada’s unemployment rate is the highest in the nation. Among workers 55 and older, the jobless rate is 12 percent. The state also has the highest percentage of homes in foreclosure or “underwater,” meaning more is owed the bank than the house is worth. Of those most worried about the economy, 6 in 10 voted for Romney.
Two upcoming primary states, Arizona and Michigan (both voting on Feb. 28), are enduring the same economic challenges as Nevada. The votes in those states could set up the finale of the GOP nominating contest.