Nevada poll: Romney leading by a wide margin

With just days before the Nevada GOP presidential caucuses, front runner Mitt Romney appears poised to win the state by a considerable margin.

A new poll by the Cannon Survey Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, found that Romney has the support of 45% of likely Republican caucus-goers, followed by Newt Gingrich with 25%, Rick Santorum with 11% and Ron Paul with 9%.

Romney does particularly well with religious voters, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which commissioned the poll along with 8NewsNow. Among Mormons, who are a small percentage of the Nevada population but made up one-quarter of GOP caucus-goers in 2008, Romney has 85.5% support. He also has the most support from Christians, Protestants and Catholics.

Romney is weaker when it comes to likely caucus-goers who identify strongly with the tea party movement. Those voters backed Gingrich over Romney, 37% to 27%, followed by Santorum (20%) and Paul (9%).

The poll was taken from Friday through Tuesday, before Romney had won the Florida primary.

Early indications from a poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling are that Romney may still hold a 20-percentage-point lead over Gingrich.

“Gingrich is barely above water on his favorability numbers,” pollster Tom Jensen told the Las Vegas Sun’s Jon Ralston. “Santorum is actually the most universally well-liked candidate but it’s not translating into intent to vote for him.”

Twenty-eight delegates are at stake in the Nevada contest, which will take place Saturday. Delegates will be awarded proportionally.

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