Santorum Wins in Tenn., Okla., N.D.; Ohio Still Too Tight to Call

Whitney Curtis/Getty Images(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- While Mitt Romney has won four Super Tuesday contests and Rick Santorum has won three so far, all eyes are fixed on a close race in Ohio, where the two are locked in a tight race.

The contest in Ohio, where polls closed at 7:30 p.m. ET, was too close 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.

"We have won in the West, the Midwest and the South, and we're ready to win across this country," Santorum told enthusiastic supporters in Ohio as the vote there was being counted.

The former Pennsylvania senator added, excitedly: "In every case, we overcame the odds. Here in Ohio, still too close to call."

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.

In a victory speech in Atlanta, Gingrich called himself the "tortoise" who will win the nomination and mocked the attention given to Santorum after the ex-senator won three primaries in states that the other candidates had mostly ignored.

"The news media, once again, desperate to prove Gingrich was wrong, suddenly said, 'Ah, now we have the person who's going to be the non-Romney,' " Gingrich said.

Making his pitch to his supporters, Gingrich called himself "the one candidate who can debate Barack Obama," drawing on one of his noteworthy strengths that has been evident in the nearly two dozen GOP primary debates.

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 found 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.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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