Nevada GOP caucus results to be announced on Twitter

First in the West and now first on Twitter.

The Nevada GOP will release results of its presidential caucus next Saturday on Twitter — a first for the social network and presidential politics — under a deal announced Friday.

Google also will use the state party website to show a map of Nevada-wide results, precinct by precinct, as they’re reported throughout the day — just as the company did for the Iowa caucus Jan. 3.

The news comes as activity began popping here a week before Nevada holds its GOP caucus — the first in the West after contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida on Tuesday . All four GOP presidential contenders are expected to campaign in Las Vegas next week.

Rick Santorum’s campaign planned to open a Southern Nevada field office today in Las Vegas. And Newt Gingrich was quickly ramping up to compete, importing high-powered help from GOP advisers who worked for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Kevin Harris, deputy policy director for Gingrich, will be working in Nevada with John Yob and Bo Harmon, both of whom helped McCain win the GOP nomination four years ago, a Gingrich campaign official confirmed. Harmon helped Gingrich win South Carolina on Jan. 21 after working on Herman Cain’s failed GOP bid as political director. Cain has a strong tea party following in Nevada.

The Gingrich campaign planned to open an office in Reno today and a Las Vegas office by Monday, with an emphasis on phoning potential caucus supporters, the campaign said.

A GOP insider said the Gingrich campaign has been telling operatives whom they’re trying to hire that Gingrich plans to win Nevada and they need help “to make it a big win.” The insider said there’s a feeling Gingrich must do well here because Sands Corps. Chairman Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, have donated $10 million to a political action committee backing Gingrich’s campaign.

Dan Burdish, who is working on Gingrich’s campaign in Nevada, said the organization is rapidly bringing on volunteers and advisers in hopes of a strong finish. But Mitt Romney remains the front-runner in Nevada after winning the state in 2008 and will be tough to beat, he added.

“Romney is still the odds-on favorite,” Burdish said, playing down expectations. “If Newt does well in Florida that helps our effort here.”

Romney appears to be the slim favorite to win Florida’s primary, but Gingrich is close in the polls. If Romney wins the Sunshine State, he will come into Nevada with two victories, the other being New Hampshire. Putting Nevada into his win column could put him on a path toward the GOP nomination.

If Gingrich wins Florida, he will have two victories to his name, including South Carolina. He would have to score a strong second to Romney in Nevada or beat him to keep momentum going.

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has a deeply loyal following in Nevada and is as organized as Romney, who finished far ahead of Paul in 2008 here thanks to a heavy Mormon vote for Romney.

Santorum barely won Iowa but isn’t expected to play well in Nevada, where he is little-known.

The public will have an easy time following results of Nevada’s caucus on computers and cellphones if they have a Twitter account and follow @nvgop — the state party’s handle.

“We believe it’ll be the fastest results coming out of a caucus in history,” said public relations consultant Jim Anderson in a conference call announcing the GOP-Twitter partnership.

Google will show the mapped precinct results from each of the state’s 17 counties on the Nevada Republican Party website at www.nevadagop.org/ as they’re reported.

Final results from 16 of Nevada’s counties will start being released at 5 p.m., two hours after the caucus meetings are scheduled to end. The state party must certify the results first.

The outcome of the caucus meetings in Clark County, where 60 percent of the state’s Republicans live, will be delayed for several hours. Most Clark County caucus-goers will start meeting at 9 a.m. and finish a few hours later. But the county is holding a special 7 p.m. post-sundown caucus to accommodate observant Jews and Seventh-day Adventists.

Clark County results won’t be released until after the special caucus, the party said. “We should have it wrapped up in an hour or half an hour,” said David Gallagher, executive director of the state GOP.

The party expects only a few hundred Republicans to attend the special caucus and a total of 50,000 to 60,000 to participate statewide. Four years ago, 44,000 attended the party meetings.

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Follow @lmyerslvrj on Twitter.

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