Mitt Romney won quiet Republican presidential caucuses in Nevada on Saturday while John McCain and Mike Huckabee dueled in a hard-fought South Carolina primary, a campaign doubleheader likely to winnow the crowded field of White House rivals.
Democrats shared the stage in Nevada, where Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama vied for a caucus victory and the campaign momentum that goes with it.
Romney's western victory marked his second straight success, coming quickly after a first-place finish in the Michigan primary revived a faltering campaign.
Caucus-goers in Nevada said the economy and illegal immigration were their top concerns, according to preliminary results from surveys of voters entering their caucuses. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, was leader among voters who cited both issues.
Mormons comprised about 20 percent of all caucus-goers, another advantage for Romney, who is trying to become the first member of the faith to win the White House.
Alone among the Republican contenders, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas aired television ads in Nevada, and the libertarian-leaning Texan was running a distant second behind Romney.
Nevada offered more delegates but far less appeal to the Republican candidates than South Carolina, a primary that has gone to the party's eventual nominee every four years since 1980.
That made it a magnet for former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, who staked his candidacy on a strong showing, as well as for Romney, McCain, the Arizona senator; and Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas.
McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, appealed to a large population of military veterans in South Carolina, and stressed his determination to rein in federal spending as he worked to avenge a bitter defeat in the 2000 primary.
Huckabee reached out to evangelical Christian voters, hoping to rebound from a string of disappointing showings since his victory in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.
Romney campaigned on a pledge to help restore the state's economy, much as he did in winning Michigan.
In South Carolina, the economy and immigration were cited as top issues, and preliminary survey data indicated a strong turnout by evangelical voters.
Survey data in both states were from polls conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.