Super Tuesday impossibly close for Romney, Santorum
Both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have three states as they wait for results from Ohio to come in. With 91 percent of the Ohio votes tallied, Romney only has a 5,000 vote lead out of the 1.1 million votes that have been counted.
Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney split six states and dueled in an almost impossibly close race in Ohio on a Super Tuesday that stretched from one end of the country to the other in the most turbulent Republican presidential race in a generation.Skip to next paragraph
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A resurgent Santorum broke through in primaries in Oklahoma and Tennessee and in the North Dakota caucuses, raising fresh doubts about Romney's ability to corral the votes of conservatives in some of the most Republican states in the country.
Romney had a home-state win in Massachusetts to go with victories in Vermont and in Virginia, where neither Santorum nor Newt Gingrich qualified for the ballot. He also led in early Idaho caucus returns and — most important — padded his lead for delegates to the Republican National Convention.
On the busiest night of the campaign season, Ohio was the marquee matchup, a second industrial state showdown in as many weeks between Romney and Santorum. It drew the most campaigning and television advertisements of all 10 Super Tuesday contests and for good reason— no Republican has ever won the White House without carrying the state in the fall.
After trailing for much of the night, Romney forged ahead in a count that stretched toward midnight. With votes tallied in 91 percent of the state's precincts, he led by about 5,000 votes out of 1.1 million cast.
Gingrich had a victory in his column — his first win in more than six weeks. The former House speaker triumphed at home in Georgia, but a barrage of attack ads by a super PAC supporting Romney helped hold him below 50 percent and forced him to share the delegates.
Whatever the outcome in Ohio, Romney was on track to pad his lead in the hunt for delegates to the Republican National Convention. Not surprisingly, given his mixed night, he focused on the delegate chase.
"This is a process of gathering enough delegates to become the nominee, and I think we're on track to have that happen," he told reporters as he arrived home in Massachusetts to vote in the primary.
Later, he told supporters, "I'm going to get this nomination."
Yet Santorum's multiple victories, coupled with Gingrich's win, provided fresh evidence that Romney's conservative rivals retain the ability to outpoll him in certain parts of the country despite his huge organizational and financial advantages.
Santorum waited until Oklahoma and Tennessee fell into his column before speaking to cheering supporters in Ohio. "This was a big night tonight," he said. "We have won in the West, the Midwest and the South, and we're ready to win across this country."