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2012: Romney wins big in Nevada

Here are the official certified results of the Nevada caucus released this morning from the Nevada GOP:

Romney 50% - 16,486 votes (about 6,000 fewer votes than he got in 2008)
Gingrich 21% - 6,956
Paul 19% - 6,175 (almost 100 more votes than he got in 2008)
Santorum 10% - 3,277

The turnout was just 32,930.

That's way below the 44,000 that turned out in 2008.

The Las Vegas Sun: “In the casinos, they call it going bust. After months of reassurance that they could play with the big boys despite a trail of mishaps, the Nevada GOP played all of its cards Saturday and lost big time in a messy, disorganized election that saw low turnout and complaints of voter fraud and unexplained ballots.” As of Sunday night, just 89 percent of the vote was counted and the party was scrambling to meet its self-imposed midnight deadline.

More: “The preliminary results indicated party leaders would likely not beat their previous statewide turnout of 44,000 in 2008. That contest was largely considered a flop and party officials had vowed to do better.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal: “A day late and amid high-level GOP hand-wringing and threats of a lawsuit, the Nevada Republican Party on Sunday released caucus results after the presidential campaigns monitored a hand count to verify thousands of Clark County ballots.”

The New York Times adds, “A special Saturday night Republican caucus here intended to accommodate Orthodox Jews who could not vote before sundown became the scene of controversy and confrontation after caucusgoers were told that to be admitted they had to sign a legal declaration under penalty of perjury that they could not attend their daytime caucus because of ‘my religious beliefs.’” More: “Many supporters of Representative Ron Paul of Texas protested when given the declaration to sign. They had arrived at the polling place — a school here named after its benefactors, the casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam — after they received an automated phone call from the Paul campaign saying voters unable to attend their regular caucuses could go to the night meeting.”

The percentage of Mormons who turned out was similar to 2008 (25% in 2012 versus 26% in 2008), according to the 2012 entrance poll. Romney won 88% of them this time; 95% in 2008.

Just 28% described themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians, the second-lowest of the contests so far behind New Hampshire.

Just 5% of the voters were Latino, down from 8% in 2008 in a state where 27% of the population is Latino.

75% of voters said they support the Tea Party movement; Romney won them 47%-25%. But among those who said they strongly support the movement, Romney split – 35%-32% -- with Gingrich.

The Boston Globe notes that Romney’s represents “the first back-to-back victory of the Republican nominating contest.” And: “Making a hard pivot to the general election, Romney didn’t even mention his Republican primary opponents during his 10-minute address — using all of his rhetorical energy to criticize President Obama.”

GINGRICH: The Boston Globe’s Johnson: Gingrich fell woefully short in Nevada … There was no cheering crowd assembled to buck him up as Romney was declared the winner. The dearth of public events, and Gingrich’s total lack of television advertising in a state where he spent all week ostensibly lobbying for caucus votes, made it appear - his own protestations aside - as if he were more interested in garnering attention than votes.”

Gingrich called Romney “Obama-lite” Friday and said, “‘I am a candidate for president of the United States. I will be a candidate for president of the United States. We will go to Tampa.’”

On Meet the Press, Gingrich said, per the Boston Globe: “My goal over the next few weeks is to draw very sharp distinctions between [mine and] Romney’s positions, which are very, the Wall Street Journal described them as timid, and in terms of tax policy, as being like Obama.”

More: “Gingrich said he is relying on the southern states to boost his delegate count. That includes Georgia, the state he represented in Congress, and Tennessee, which both vote March 6; Alabama, which votes March 13; and Texas, which votes April 3. ‘We believe by the time Texas is over, we’ll be very competitive in delegate count,’ Gingrich said.”

Gingrich on Meet the Press, per USA Today: "Our goal is to get to Super Tuesday, where we're in much more favorable territory. By the time Texas is over, we'll be very, very competitive in delegate count."

With another photo of Gingrich at a podium in an empty Nevada room, the New York Daily News notes that Gingrich is vowing to fight on.

“A central Florida man is suing Newt Gingrich, claiming a security officer for the Republican presidential candidate stomped on his foot ‘like he was stomping out a cigarette,’” AP writes. was wearing a Ron Paul T-shirt and holding a sign when Gingrich arrived. “The lawsuit claims a ‘swarm’ of security guards from Patriot Group International surrounded Dillard and one stomped on his foot while he was wearing open sandals, causing a fracture.” Paul’s campaign called on Gingrich to apologize.

“Newt Gingrich says he didn't call Mitt Romney after his rival's decisive victory in the Florida primary because Romney ‘doesn't deserve congratulations,’” USA Today writes.

PAUL: “Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) "appears to have been paid twice for flights between Washington, D.C., and his Congressional district, receiving reimbursement from taxpayers and also from a network of political and nonprofit organizations he controlled," Roll Call reports,” Political Wire writes.

On ABC’s This Week, Paul took credit for an “intellectual revolution.” "There's a lot more people talking about free-enterprise economics rather than Keynesian welfare-ism and interventionism. There is ... an intellectual revolution going on with young people. It has not been translated to absolute political change but, believe me, the intellectual revolution is going on and that has to come first before you see the political changes, and that's where I'm very optimistic.”

ROMNEY: Greg Sargent's take on the new WaPo/ABC poll: “Obama’s edge over Romney despite disapproval on the economy seems to be driven by a growing awareness of Romney’s image and by the GOP nomination process. Fifty-two percent say the more they hear about Romney, the less they like. And Americans disapprove of the things the GOP candidates have been saying, 54-36.”

The New York Times’ Frank Bruni wonders if voters would gain a deeper understanding of Romney if he talked more about his Mormon faith.

SANTORUM: Looking to Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, Santorum said on FOX: “This race is a long, long way from being over.” He said in Nevada, Romney had the “natural advantage.”

Santorum called Romney a “uni-dimensional candidate” and said that being a CEO "not the greatest qualification for being president of the United States.” And: “Santorum also repeated his concerns that Gingrich is ‘prone’ to support ideas that aren't fiscally prudent, such as backing a lunar colony. Those kinds of ideas means Gingrich is not ‘authentically conservative,’ Santorum noted.”