In the South Carolina primaries, John McCain beat Mike Huckabee by 33 per cent to 30 per cent. Mr Huckabee last week compared gay marriage to “a man and an animal.”

In the Nevada Democratic caucus, New York Senator Hillary Clinton scored 51 per cent of the vote compared to Barack Obama’s 45 per cent. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has been declared the winner in the Republican Nevada caucus, leading over rival Arizona Senator John McCain by a wide margin.

Mitt Romney took 51 percent of the vote, a 37 point lead over his closest rival, Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 14 percent. John McCain took third with 13 percent of the vote.

“Today, the people of Nevada voted for change in Washington,” Romney said in a statement released by his campaign. “For far too long, our leaders have promised to take the action necessary to build a stronger America, and still the people of Nevada and all across this country are waiting. Whether it is reforming health care, making America energy independent or securing the border, the American people have been promised much and are now ready for change.”

Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson trailed in fourth in the Republican caucus with 8 percent, followed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, winner of the Iowa caucuses, also at 8 percent. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, California Representative Duncan Hunter and Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo all took less than 5 percent of the vote.

Hunter, with disappointing results in all primaries and caucuses so far, announced Saturday afternoon that he would be dropping out of the presidential nomination race. He still remains a possible candidate for a vice-presidential spot going into the November elections.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting in the Democratic Nevada caucus, Hillary Clinton has been declared the winner over Barack Obama. Clinton took 51 percent of the vote compared to 45 percent for Obama.

Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards followed in third with only 4 percent of the vote so far. Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich took less than 1 percent of the vote, followed by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (who is no longer running), with 0 percent of the vote.

Once again, women proved a factor in Clinton’s win, making up 60 percent of voters in Nevada. Clinton took 52 percent of female votes, compared to 35 percent for Obama, according to CNN caucus entrance polls. Clinton also lead among Latino voters by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. Among black voters, nearly 80 percent supported Obama.

“This was a very effective campaign to reach as many people as possible and we did and I’m very proud of that,” Clinton said in a press conference from Las Vegas. “The people of Nevada spent a long time talking to me about their worries concerning the economy and health care and education… and I think that the people of Nevada want somebody who is going to give them solutions, not just rhetoric.”

“I just want to say how grateful I am to Nevada and all of the people who worked so hard in this campaign,” Clinton said. “I guess this is how the West was won.”

Romney’s win in Nevada is a strong boost for his campaign, coming on the heels of his win in the Michigan primary earlier this week. The win for Clinton in the Nevada caucus could be vital to her campaign going into the South Carolina Democratic primary next Saturday.

Ann Turner of GayWired.com contributed to this article. Portions are © 2008 GayWired.com