Nevada entrance poll: Beating Obama matters most

Gary Reed holds up a precinct number sign before the start of caucusing at a high school caucus site, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in Las Vegas. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Nevada caucus
Gary Reed holds up a precinct number sign before the start of caucusing at a high school caucus site, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in Las Vegas.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Nevada Republican caucus-goers are primarily concerned with defeating President Obama in November, according to early CBS News entrance polling.

As many as 44 percent of Nevada Republican caucus-goers named electability as the candidate quality that matters most, the data shows. Another 20 percent said strong moral character matters the most, while 17 percent said being a true conservative. Sixteen percent say having the right experience matters the most. The entrance poll was conducted as caucus-goers across the state entered their caucus on Saturday.

Electability has been the most important candidate quality in each of the states that have weighed in on the Republican presidential race so far.

Only 22 percent of Nevada voters decided on their candidate in the last few days, the entrance polling shows. Twenty percent decided in January while 57 percent decided earlier than that.

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The economy is far and away the top issue for Nevada Republican caucus goers today, with 54 percent identifying it as their top issue. Another 33 percent said the budget deficit, while 5 percent said illegal immigration and 3 percent said abortion.

The economy has been the top issue in all of the primaries and caucus so far.

As many as 41 percent of Nevada voters said campaign ads were in important factor in their vote; but more - 54 percent -- said they were not an important factor.

Polls in the week leading into the Nevada caucuses showed Mitt Romney with a sizeable lead there -- the former Massachusetts governor won 51 percent of the state vote in the 2008 GOP race. Romney also is likely to draw a boost from the relatively large Mormon population in the state. He also has momentum coming off of a strong victory in the Florida primaries.

Nevada is the fifth state in the nation, and the first Western state, to choose among the candidates in the Republican presidential field. Only registered Republicans can participate in this contest. There are 400,000 active registered Republican voters in Nevada, and 10-15 percent of them are expected to participate in Saturday's events.

The last caucus in Nevada will convene at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time -- that's the earliest time CBS News and other media outlets will make a projection of a winner.

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