With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Mitt Romney came in first in the Nevada primary, receiving just over 50 percent of the vote. The rest of the candidates struggled to keep up with Romney, with Gingrich finishing up with 21.1 percent, Ron Paul close behind with 18.8 percent, and Rick Santorum receiving just 10 percent of the vote. Voter turnout in Nevada was much lower than expected, reflecting a lack of enthusiasm for the Republican candidates. Jamie Dupree of the Atlanta Journal Constitution speculates that a flawed caucus system could be responsible for low turnout and that vote counting discrepancies could deter voters from participating in the process.
On the campaign trail...
Newt Gingrich (Republican): While the former House Speaker trailed front-runner Mitt Romney by almost 30 percent in Nevada's primary, he is still defending his candidacy and reports on NBC's Meet the Press, "Our goal is to get to Super Tuesday, where we're in much more favorable territory." In around a month, 10 states will hold their primary elections and 437 delegates will be up for grabs, almost one fifth of the total number of Republican delegates in the nomination race.
Barack Obama (Democrat): This morning, the president issued an executive order calling for new sanctions on Iran and the Central Bank. These sanctions will freeze all assets of the Central Bank within U.S. control, halting all monetary transactions with Iran. Speaking of these sanctions, the Washington Post reports, "The White House sees sanctions as an effective method of increasing pressure on Iran and officials say the penalties have started to squeeze Iran's economy."
Ron Paul (Republican): Texas Congressman Ron Paul made a strong case in Nevada this weekend, an effort that resulted in a very close third place finish. Short by 2%, Paul finished behind Romney and Gingrich, but still picked up 5 delegates from the state. While he has yet to win a caucus or primary, he has slowly but surely been collecting delegates, and could very well garner 200 or more by the summer convention. Speaking of his campaign, Republican strategist John Feehery says:
"He's going to ask for a speaking role at the convention and try to have some influence in the party platform."
Buddy Roemer (Republican): Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer made headlines today by being the first candidate to qualify for federal matching funds. According to the Federal Election Commission, a candidate can qualify by raising at least $5,000 in each of 20 states in increments of $250 or less. In Roemer's case, he limited his campaign contributions to $100 or less per donor in an attempt to get money out of politics. His campaign manager, Carlos Sierra, says of the qualification:
"It was a proud day for our campaign, because we earned a small recognition of our hard work and transparency.”
Mitt Romney (Republican): Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney celebrated his second victory in a row after receiving more votes in Nevada than the rest of the candidates combined. While voter turnout was low, ABC reports this could actually work in Romney's favor. John Barron notes that the negative campaign strategies have created enough disillusionment that voters have opted to stay at home. If Romney goes head to head against Obama, this strategy of disillusionment will work in his favor, as Barron suggests "every vote not cast is effectively a vote for him."
Rick Santorum (Republican): Santorum's fourth place finish in Nevada can be attributed to personal issues concerning his family and his lack of focus on the caucus state. Remaining optimistic, Rick Santorum tells Fox News, "I think we're going to show improvement. This race is a long, long way from being over." He has his sights set on the nonbinding primary in Missouri, a state in which Gingrich failed to quality for the ballot. He also managed to gain the signatures necessary to place him on the ballot in Indiana, after coming up 24 signatures short in Marion County.