02/03/2012 05:24 pm ET Updated Feb 04, 2012

Nevada Primary 2012: GOP Candidates Duke It Out In State Where Latinos Have Proven Themselves Valuable To Economy

Mitt Romney is going to confront a different kind of Latino in Nevada on Saturday.

Out of the 2.7 million Latinos in Nevada, 78 percent are of Mexican decent, in contrast to Florida, where only 15 percent of the population is Mexican. Nevada’s Latino population reached a whopping 26.5 percent, according to the census, compared to 19.7 percent in 2000.

In 2010, there were 224,000 eligible Hispanic voters in Nevada. That’s 14 percent of all eligible voters in the state, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

The Hispanic growth could translate into political power.

While a top priority for many Latinos in Nevada may be immigration reform, a Univision/National Latino electorate poll found that improving the economy was the main concern for Latinos across the nation.

Romney has been labeled the most “anti-immigrant” Republican candidate given his opposition to the DREAM Act and for having saying, “A lot of people just come here that have no skill, no education, and are looking for a free deal."

In 2010, immigrants in Nevada comprised 24.5 percent of the state’s workforce, or 344,290 workers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

And Latino immigrants in Nevada paid roughly $2.6 billion in federal taxes and $1.6 billion in state and local taxes, including $500 million in sales taxes, in 2005.

The money that Latinos earn and spend in Nevada accounts for about "25% of the State’s Gross State Product," and Latino income, employment and spending "results in the creation of 108,380 jobs in Nevada," according to a 2007 report from the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

Romney may have a hard-line on immigration, which many perceive as anti-Latino because so many Latinos are immigrants, but in Nevada Latinos have proven themselves vital to the state’s economy both as taxpayers and workers.