LAS VEGAS, Nevada, Feb 4, (AFP) - Mitt Romney looks set to romp to victory in the Nevada caucus Saturday, cementing his position as Republican presidential frontrunner four days after his crushing Florida win.
Despite a wobble this week with a gaffe about America's poor, opinion polls give the former Massachusetts governor a huge 20-25 point lead over his rivals in the Western battleground state.
But there is no sign that any of his three opponents, led by former House speaker Newt Gingrich, plan to throw in the towel as the candidates prepare to head to the next state poll in Colorado, another Western state.
The main question seems to be how big Romney's share of the vote is in Nevada -- which has a large community that shares his Mormon faith -- and some say anything less than 50 percent could be seen as a disappointment.
“They're basically competing against expectations now: can he do better than 50 percent, which is about what he got four years ago?” said David Damore, associate professor of politics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“Everybody knows he's going to win, it's about how big he wins, and how much of the vote he gets,” he told AFP.
Romney is aiming for a third win over his nearest rival Gingrich, as the two wrestle to be the Republican Party's challenger in the November elections against Democratic President Barack Obama.
After triumphs in New Hampshire and Florida, Romney has cemented his position at the front of the pack and a new poll predicted he would win with 50 percent to Gingrich's 25 in Nevada.
But a series of gaffes has dented Romney's image and led to accusations that he is out of touch with ordinary voters, after the multi-millionaire said this week he was “not concerned” about poor Americans who he said have a safety net.
“I misspoke, plain and simple,” Romney acknowledged to CNN on Friday.
But Gingrich on Friday renewed his attacks on the frontrunner for the gaffe in an eve-of-caucus rally in Las Vegas.
“Governor Romney is trying to recover from his boo boo,” he said to laughter and whoops from supporters at a music bar in the desert gambling city.
The former Massachusetts governor has also raised eyebrows after he released tax filings showing he earned $20 million from his investments in 2010 and paid just 13.9 percent in taxes -- a lower rate than many struggling Americans.