Rubio, Jeb, Rand Compete for Mormon Vote in Nevada

Many observers believe Mormons will not only decide the Republican winner in Nevada, but “reshape the national race at a pivotal moment in next year’s primaries,” reports BuzzFeed.

Writes McKay Coppins:

“Whatever campaign is able to successfully organize and turn [Mormons] out for their candidate in this cycle will win Nevada,” said Todd Cranney, a Mormon who served as deputy political director for Romney’s 2012 campaign. “I do believe some of the campaigns recognize this fact, and are working hard to turn out LDS voters. That’s a very smart strategy.”

Mormon voters are not generally accustomed to wielding much political clout in national elections. Though polls suggest the overwhelmingly Republican members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are more politically engaged than most voters, they still represent a relatively tiny portion of the American electorate, and are most heavily concentrated in deep-red Western states like Utah and Idaho — far away from election-year battlegrounds. Even as their religion was endlessly dissected and debated in the political sphere during Romney’s two campaigns, rank-and-file Mormon voters have never before had the sort of influence that leads presidential candidates to genuflect before them. Until now.

GOP strategists attribute this change to the Romney campaign’s unprecedented success in organizing and energizing the state’s LDS voters. While Nevada is only about 5% Mormon, members of the church made up a whopping 25% of the Republican caucuses in both 2008 and 2012.