Mitt Romney’s landslide win in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses — which followed his big victory the previous Tuesday in Florida — has reestablished him as the odds-on favorite for the Republican presidential nomination.
The counting in Nevada has been notoriously slow, but at this writing Romney has nearly 48% of the vote, compared to 23% for Newt Gingrich, 19% for Ron Paul and 11% for Rick Santorum. The margin may have been impressive but the result was not a surprise.
Four years ago, Romney carried the Silver State caucuses handily, taking 51% of the vote, a greater than 3-1 advantage over Paul and the rest of the field. Mormons, who count for more than a quarter of the GOP electorate in Nevada, overwhelmingly backed Romney, then and now. There was no reason to think Romney wouldn’t repeat, and conventional wisdom proved correct.
Romney still has a long way to go in trying to convince Tea Party folks and evangelical conservatives he is the right choice to take on President Obama in the general election. But by the looks of things, February is going to give him a gigantic boost towards that goal.