Mitt Romney Wins Va., Mass., Vt., Idaho; Tight Race in Ohio
(BOSTON) -- Mitt Romney has won four Super Tuesday contests so far, but all eyes are fixed on a close race in Ohio, where Romney was locked in a tight race with his main rival, Rick Santorum.
The race in Ohio, where polls closed at 7:30 p.m. ET, was too tight to predict a winner based on exit polls.
Romney won handily in Virginia, where he was the only candidate on the ballot aside from Ron Paul; in Massachusetts, the state he governed; and in Vermont, which neighbors the Bay State. He also won the Idaho caucuses.
Santorum triumphed in Tennessee, a southern state in which his conservative message has resonated, and in Oklahoma, the reddest state in the union. In both states, voters who called themselves religious and very conservative lifted Santorum over Romney, who has struggled for months to persuade the right wing of the party that he's right for them. He also won the caucuses in North Dakota.
ABC News also projects that, as expected, Newt Gingrich will win the only Super Tuesday state to which he gave attention -- his home state of Georgia, which he represented as a member of Congress.
As voters in 10 states made their picks for the Republican nomination, Romney was working to write the final chapter of the primary season on the biggest single day of contests in the race.
Romney, wearing the crown of official front-runner after recent wins in Michigan, Arizona and Washington, has been battling for the nomination for longer than it once seemed he would be. His main rival, Rick Santorum, emerged from nowhere first in Iowa and then in a string of states last month as the "conservative alternative" to Romney.
The speech that Romney plans to give to supporters in Boston focuses not on his Republican opponents but on President Obama, at least according to the prepared text obtained by ABC News. He will say that his Super Tuesday successes are "one more step toward restoring the promise of America" and that the contest will go on "day by day, step by step, door to door, heart to heart."
"To the millions of Americans who look around and can only see jobs they can't get and bills they can't pay, I have a message: You have not failed. This president has failed you," Romney plans to say.
Paul was the first candidate of the night to speak. He told his supporters in Fargo, N.D., hours before polls closed that "the rest of the candidates represent the status quo."
Hundreds of miles away, Santorum led Romney in polls in Tennessee, a southern state in which his conservative message has resonated.
While Santorum has been successful in riding occasional crests of momentum, "Super Tuesday" is more about the number of delegates who will be awarded to the candidates, and Romney appeared poised to be in the best position after the dust settles.
The most contested and watched vote is in the swing state of Ohio, where Santorum led in the polls until just a few days ago. Now the race is as good as a tie, and the winner there will most likely be deemed the winner of Super Tuesday expectations.
Exit polls showed that more than half of voters said Romney was the candidate most fit to beat President Obama. But when asked which candidate "best understands the problems of average Americans," fewer than one-quarter of voters picked Romney. About one-third chose Santorum in that category.
The candidates are fighting for 437 delegates just Tuesday, more than all the delegates that have been won already. Romney is in the lead with 203, and Santorum is in a solid second place with 92. The race ends once a candidate gets 1,144.
Georgia offers the most delegates in Tuesday's voting with 76. Other big states are Ohio (66), Tennessee (58), Virginia (49) and Oklahoma (43). Three other states voting in caucuses Tuesday award fewer -- Idaho, North Dakota and Alaska.
Making a rare cameo on the Super Tuesday stage was President Obama, who called his first press conference of the year Tuesday afternoon, perhaps not by coincidence.
Asked vaguely to opine on Romney and the happenings within the GOP Tuesday, Obama gave his shortest answer: "Good luck tonight."
He added: "Really."
The nomination battle is unlikely to actually end after the votes are all counted by Wednesday morning, but Romney is expected to be in better position with a comfortable lead in delegates.
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