Nevada: Cruz Gambles Big, While Trump Places Safe Bets

Donald Trump holds a commanding 26-point lead over his Republican rivals in Nevada, but Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is fighting hard to catch up.

Trump is maintaining a low profile in the state in the lead-up to Tuesday’s caucus. According to the New York Times, the billionaire businessman and New Hampshire primary winner has just one event planned in Nevada over the next week–a noon rally at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks on the day of the caucus.

In comparison, the Associated Press reports that Cruz has at least eight campaign stops planned in Nevada between now and Tuesday, beginning with a Sunday rally in Pahrump.

While Nevada caucus polling is traditionally less reliable and more difficult to analyze compared to other early primary states, according to the CNN-ORC poll released Wednesday, Trump remains the top choice of Nevada Republican caucus-goers, with 46 percent.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is second with 19 percent, while Sen. Ted Cruz is third with 17 percent. Dr. Ben Carson, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush trail far behind, polling in the single digits.

The poll was conducted among just 245 likely Republican caucus voters, and has a margin of error of 6.5 points.

Republican contenders have stepped up attacks ahead of both Saturday’s South Carolina primary and the Nevada caucus just days later.

While most advertising spending has focused on South Carolina, Cruz has just begun airing a new television ad in the Silver State that takes aim at Trump over land ownership.

“Eight-five percent of Nevada is owned and regulated by the federal government, and Donald Trump wants to keep big government in charge,” Cruz says in the spot. “That’s ridiculous.”

Meanwhile, Rubio, who moved to Las Vegas with his family when he was eight and spent six years growing up there, is hoping that his half-dozen campaign stops in the state over the past few months translate into a strong turnout on Tuesday.

According to the Guardian, Rubio is counting on the influential Mormon vote to boost his numbers. The outlet notes that while Mormons make up just 4 percent of the state’s voters, they accounted for roughly 25 percent of Mitt Romney’s support in 2012.

Rubio also enjoys the endorsement of the state’s most influential newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The race could ultimately be decided by turnout. Romney won the Nevada caucus in 2012 with just 8.2 percent of all eligible Republican voters turning out at caucus sites


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