Romney, Clinton Claim Nevada in Tale of Two Races

Besides Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Romney had been the only Republican candidate devoting significant attention to the Nevada contest.

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Romney had claimed 52 percent of the vote, with Paul in second with a 14 percent share and Arizona Sen. John McCain logging 13 percent of the Republican total. That earned Romney 17 delegates to four each for McCain and Paul.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Fred Thompson each claimed 8 percent of the vote, while former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani won just 4 percent of the vote and California Rep. Duncan Hunter, 2 percent. Hunter announced this evening he will drop out of the race.

Romney won broad support among Nevada's Republican voters, according to preliminary entrance poll result analysis by ABC News. Notably, while Mormons only make up 7 percent of the state's population, they accounted for roughly a quarter of Republican caucus-goers. Ninety percent of them supported Romney, who is Mormon.

Romney also won support from the state's evangelicals, a demographic that had propelled rival candidate Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and a Baptist pastor, to his victory over Romney in Iowa. It is a feat that Romney also accomplished in his victory in Michigan earlier this week.

The Republican caucus-goers cited the economy and immigration as driving factors in the 2008 race and threw support behind the former Massachusetts governor as the best candidate to tackle those issues.

During a news conference at his Florida headquarters, Romney said that he would have won the Nevada race without the Mormon vote. "I think it was pointed out to me that I won in Nevada among evangelicals as well, according to the exit polls," Romney said. "And I think … if no members of my faith had turned out at all, I still would have won in Nevada."

Romney was also happy to win among Hispanic voters, support he said he hopes will continue as the race moves into new states. Romney tied his wins in Nevada, Wyoming and Michigan to connecting with voters on core issues like the economy and continued to challenge what he calls a "broken" Washington government.

Romney was not expected to win South Carolina today and responded to a question about whom he would like to win by saying Hunter, a long-shot candidate. "I'm not ready to concede based upon exit polls," he said.

News came of the Nevada win while the Romney campaign was in the air on the way to Florida. His wife, Ann, announced reports of the victory over the plane's PA system. "I'm delighted," Romney said. "That's one, two, three. And, hopefully several more to go in the next few days."

With the Nevada victory, Romney, who has invested a large amount of his money into an expensive campaign, will have won three states — Wyoming, Michigan and Nevada.

Romney placed second in the Iowa, Jan. 3, to Huckabee, and Jan. 8 he placed second to McCain in New Hampshire.

ABC News staff contributed to this report.

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