The Nevada Republican Party caucus is a closed caucus open to those who were registered 30 days before the caucus date, and 17-year-olds who are eligible to vote in the general election in November. As in most Republican caucuses, there are two components. First, delegates are elected from the attendees. These delegates represent the caucusgoers at the county conventions in March, and generally announce who they support for President, and why they should go to the county convention. Election of delegates is by show of hands. Then, a supporter of each campaign speaks on behalf of their candidate. Finally, a straw poll, called a presidential preference poll, is taken of the individuals in the room. This preference poll is a secret ballot with candidate names printed on them.
Although the news media report the results of the straw poll, and assigns delegates proportionally based on it, in Nevada it is the county conventions and the state convention which determine who actually goes to the Republican National Convention. Thus, all delegates are unbound until the state convention in April, although they generally will represent the preferences expressed by fellow Republicans in the straw poll.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney campaigned hard in Nevada, while the other leading Republican candidates, John McCain and Ron Paul, focused on South Carolina during the run-up to January 19. The Republican party did not cut Nevada's delegates to the national convention in half;[clarification needed] therefore, Nevada had more delegates at stake than South Carolina. He was expected to benefit from Nevada's large Mormon population.
A poll ahead of the election predicted John McCain to win the election with 22 percent, followed by Rudy Giuliani (18 percent), Mike Huckabee (16 percent), Mitt Romney (15 percent), Fred Thompson (11 percent) and Ron Paul (6 percent).
On January 17, Ron Paul's Nevada campaign representatives warned state GOP officials that thousands of caucus goers had been given incorrect information on where to go to caucus. Party officials addressed the problem with a message on the Nevada GOP website that morning, two days before the caucus.