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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 January 2008, 00:06 GMT
Clinton wins tight Nevada caucus
Hillary Clinton in Nevada as results are announced
Mrs Clinton praised high turn-out in Nevada

Hillary Clinton has won a close-fought US presidential caucus in the state of Nevada, with nearly all of the Democratic vote counted.

Those figures show Mrs Clinton with 51% of the vote, to 45% for Barack Obama. She told cheering supporters: "I guess this is how the West was won."

In the state's Republican contest, Mitt Romney won by a large margin.

The party's Nevada contest has been overshadowed by a closely-fought primary being held in South Carolina.

Polls closed at 1900 local time (midnight GMT) in the first southern state to hold a primary, where Republicans John McCain and Mike Huckabee, who appear to be the frontrunners in a very tight race, have focused their efforts.

Mrs Clinton hailed her win as "an extraordinary success for Nevada and the Democratic Party", and lauded turn-out of more than 100,000 voters.

This is a huge win for Hillary. This is big, this is a big day
Terry McAuliffe, Clinton campaign manager

"I want to say that we will all be united in November to beat the Republicans," she said, and vowed to "move with confidence and optimism into the future".

In the state's Republican contest, Mr Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, captured 51% of Nevada's vote, ahead of Ron Paul on 14% and John McCain on 13%.

In a statement after his win, Mr Romney said: "Today, the people of Nevada voted for change in Washington.

"Now Washington must act and take the steps necessary to strengthen our economy."

Analysts say Mr Romney, a Mormon, may have benefited from the support of the nearly 7% of Nevada voters who share his faith.

Meanwhile in South Carolina, pre-vote polls suggested Mr McCain - who lost the state to George W Bush in 2000 - might hold a narrow lead there.

Observers said unusually wintry weather, particularly in the north of the normally balmy state, might affect turn-out.

The result is being keenly watched because the Republican winner in South Carolina has gone on to become the party's nominee in every presidential election since 1980.

Hispanic vote

Following news of her projected win, Mrs Clinton's campaign manager Terry McAuliffe told US network MSNBC: "This is a huge win for Hillary. This is big, this is a big day."

graphic showing Democratic Party pledged delegates
Candidate wins nomination by accumulating 2,025 delegates
Most are "pledged delegates", won at primaries or caucuses
25 delegates at stake in Nevada
Delegates vote at summer convention to confirm nominee
Graphs do not include delegates from Nevada caucus

Going into the vote, Mrs Clinton was backed by influential politicians in the state's Hispanic community, which makes up about 25% of the population, while Mr Obama had the support of a powerful local union organisation.

Many of their target voters work in the casinos and resorts of Las Vegas and for the first time, nine casinos held Democratic caucuses to try to make it easier for workers to vote.

The BBC's Lourdes Heredia, at a caucus in the Luxor casino in Las Vegas, said the atmosphere was like that of a football match.

Supporters of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards were grouped on different sides of the room, exchanging loud cheers and shouts, waiting to be counted - the way each candidate's support is calculated.

The Obama campaign had handed out red T-shirts saying "Make the Vegas dream the American dream", our correspondent said.

Mrs Clinton's supporters all wore white T-shirts saying "I support my union, I support Hillary" - a reference to a row over union support in the run-up to the vote.

Maribel Suarez told the BBC: "I have always supported Hillary because she's a woman and it's time we had a woman president.

"I feel Bill Clinton was a good leader for the Latino community and even though my union supports Obama, I haven't changed my mind. My vote is my vote and I'm proud of it."

'Embarrassed'

In Nevada's Republican caucuses only Mr Romney had done any serious campaigning, with the other front-runners instead preferring to focus on South Carolina.

graphic showing republican delegate count
Candidate wins nomination by accumulating 1,191 delegates
Most are "pledged delegates", won at primaries or caucuses
31 delegates at stake in Nevada and 24 in South Carolina
Delegates vote at summer convention to confirm nominee
Graphs do not include delegates from Nevada and S Carolina votes
Like their Democratic counterparts in Nevada, the Republican presidential hopefuls have focused on the economy in their final campaigning in South Carolina, which is losing many manufacturing jobs.

Mr McCain, who won in New Hampshire, partly blamed his party for America's woes, saying to voters: "As a Republican, I stand before you embarrassed. Embarrassed that we let that spending get out of control."

The other main contenders in South Carolina appear to be the other two men who have already won a primary - former Arkansas governor Mr Huckabee and Mr Romney.

Correspondents say Mr Huckabee is hoping for the support of the 53% of registered Republicans, who describe themselves as white evangelical Christians - a group that was instrumental in his victory in the Iowa caucuses last month.

However, Mr Huckabee has been under fire for remarks apparently equating same-sex marriage with bestiality.

Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, who has been focusing heavily on South Carolina, is trailing Mr Romney in fourth place in the opinion polls.

Observers say Mr Thompson needs a good result in the state to have a chance of remaining a viable contender for the Republican nomination.

The former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani, has virtually ignored the early races to concentrate on the bigger prize of Florida at the end of the month. The Democrats will hold their primary in South Carolina on 26 January.

The ballots precede Super Tuesday, when 22 states will hold polls on 5 February.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney in Nevada



Select from the list below to view state level results.



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