Based on the polling available for the state, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is set to win the Nevada caucus in his largest victory in the GOP 2012 presidential primary race so far.

Fellow candidates Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum certainly think so. All three candidates are already launching counterattacks somewhere else.

Mitt Romney carried the Florida 2012 Republican primary by 14.5 percentage points on Tuesday, garnering 46.4 percent of the vote.

But in Nevada, the former Massachusetts governor is expected to get at least 50 percent of the vote.

This estimate is backed by polls conducted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and by Public Policy Polling, as well as by aggregates of 538 and HuffPollster, compiled by The New York Times and The Huffington Post, respectively.

Romney's history in the state bodes well, too. The Nevada caucus went big for Romney back during the 2008 Republican nomination process, and the state shows no sign of changing in 2012.

The candidate's Mormon background, meanwhile, appeals greatly to the state's GOP electorate, a quarter of whom are members of the Church of jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Newt Gingrich is expected to place a distant second with approximately 25 percent of the vote, with Ron Paul in third and Rick Santorum in fourth.

In terms of delegates, Nevada offers only a modest 28 to the winner. Romney has 87 delegates so far, followed by Gingrich, at 26; Santorum, at 14; and Ron Paul, at four.

A GOP candidate needs 1,144 delegates to win the nomination.

In terms of symbolic significance, however, Romney's Nevada victory will be his first back-to-back win in the race, and it would help him put some distance between himself and the anti-Romney candidates trailing him.

So far, Romney has never lost a race he was projected to win.

All of which helps to explain why, on the day of the Nevada caucus, neither Newt Gingrich nor Ron Paul nor Rick Santorum is in Nevada.

We're going to be competing there, Gingrich told Fox News on Saturday.

But the there the former Speaker referred to was not Nevada, but Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, with Maine, Michigan and Arizona to follow soon after.

After a primary or caucus each week in January, February will see a slew of caucuses and primaries, all of them leading up to the 10-state, swing-state-heavy Super Tuesday, on March 6, 2012.

In order to survive the merciless campaign schedule, and to convince voters that they still have a chance in the race, candidates can no longer afford to stay in a state if they expect a loss.

Rick Santorum, meanwhile, campaigned today in Colorado, and he was in Missouri on Friday, tearing into Romney and Gingrich in anticipation of their gains in Nevada.

During a speech in Missouri on Friday, Santorum criticized Romney for being detached from the American people, and he lambasted Gingrich for his sometimes outlandish ideas, like his call for a moon base built by private corporations.

We need someone who is more multidimensional than Governor Romney, Santorum told the crowd, and not as multidimensional in every idea in the world as Newt Gingrich.

Missouri is an interesting state for Santorum to choose in the days before the Nevada caucus.

It will hold both a primary and a caucus this year, and the earlier date, the Feb.17 primary, will give its winner no delegates.

A symbolic victory in the deeply conservative state, however, could give the former Pennsylvania senator the boost he needs to stay in what has become a three-way race.

His expected fourth place single-digit finish in Nevada will be a blow that the candidate needs to work on compensating for immediately.

Even Ron Paul has left Nevada to carry on to Minnesota -- but not without putting in some serious hours in Nevada first.

Unlike Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, both of whom spent a limited amount of time and effort in the Silver State, Paul has devoted a lot of resources to the caucus.

And while Gingrich and Santorum are rallying on the defensive side, Paul's retreat from Nevada on the night of the primary actually reads like a move from the offense.

Ron Paul has great organization in Nevada, and he remains the candidate with the greatest number of polling errors in the Republican primary race.

Based on his late lead over Santorum, and the difficulty of polling the younger voters who often come out for him in full force, Paul could even challenge Gingrich for second place.

And for his campaign team, second place is the perfect spot to be.

Our goal is to win, Paul said at a news conference on Wednesday in Las Vegas, Nev. And you win by getting the maximum number of delegates.

According to Paul's advisers, the candidate is looking to avoid putting too much into expensive winner-take-all primaries like Florida and Arizona in favor of states that allocate their delegates and cost less in campaign funds.

I'm delighted Nevada makes it fair, where we can compete for the votes, Fox quoted Paul as saying. When we get the delegates and build up momentum, we can win.

And with 46 states yet to vote, and just six percent of the delegates claimed so far, that strategy is one of the best ways to take on front-runner Mitt Romney.