Nevada, the first-in-the-west caucus, is choosing its Republican presidential nominee for 2012 elections Saturday. The trial polls do indicate a Mitt Romney victory in the state, which has very high Mormon population.
However, the Texas Congressman, Ron Paul, who has campaigned heavily in the state, is expected do well in the caucus. If the latest polls are any indication, then Paul's support is surging as Nevada head for polls.
According to the PPP (D) Poll on Feb. 3, Romney is at 50 pct, Newt Gingrich at 25 pct and Santorum is at 8 pct while Paul is at 15 pct. Paul has seen a 6-point increase in his support when compared to a Las Vegas Review Journal poll Feb. 2.
Ron Paul's stakes as well as his prospects are high in Nevada caucus. Paul's campaign had dropped Florida to focus in Nevada. Therefore, a good performance in the state is important for Paul, who is planning to stay till the end of the race to gather as much delegates as he can. A good performance and a second place here can make Nevada a spring board for his campaign.
Nevada offers a golden chance to boost his candidacy because the state has an environment that is conducive to Paul ideology for many reasons.
Caucus Process: Nevada is a caucus state, which is ideal for Paul's organization - which is based on grass root level promotion of an ideology. Paul, who had come second in the 2008 presidential election behind Romney, has a strong organization here. This would help Paul's much enthusiastic supporters to send as many voters as possible to caucus.
The very process of caucusing involves the candidate's reps lobbying for their candidates at the caucus centers. This would benefit Paul as his campaign network is strong enough to represent him in all precincts and convince the voters till the last moment.
The very unpredictability of the caucus process also can produce surprises from Paul camp in Nevada because Paul, who just had 7.3 percent support in trial polls in 2008, gathered 13.7 percent votes in the 2008 caucus.
Mormon Votes: A quarter of Nevada's population is Mormons. This for sure is an advantage for Romney, who is a Mormon. Meanwhile, Paul too has done sufficient ground work in the state to penetrate Mormon vote bank. He has advantages over Romney because his ideological commitment to the Constitution of America would make him a preferable candidate, than Romney, among the religious Mormons. Apparently, If not majority, Paul can command a sizable chunk of Mormon supporters in the state.
Economy and Recession: Nevada is one of the states which is most hit by the recession and economic crisis. The unemployment rate here is higher than the country average. In such scenario, the Nevada republicans might be impressed by Ron Paul's state-specific economic plan than Romney's and Gingrich's establishment-oriented economic plans.
Gingrich Impact: If Ron Paul betters his prospects in Nevada poll, then the first hit will be Gingrich. Gingrich has not concentrated in the state and he has already admitted that he is only hoping to finish second in the state.
Another factor that would benefit Paul is that Gingrich is not liked by half of the Republican population the state. According to a PPP (D) poll, only 41 percent have favorable opinion on Gingrich while 49 percent have negative opinion on him.
Though he is making every effort to portray himself as the anti-Romney candidate replacing Gingrich, Santorum lacks the organization or the ideological support of Paul has. This, in fact, would benefit Ron Paul to garner anti-Romney and anti-Gingrich votes.