Romney eases to Washington win
Mitt Romney breezed to an easy victory in the Washington state Republican presidential caucuses last night, earning another momentum boost heading into next week's crucial ‘Super Tuesday’ contests.
With about 80 per cent of precincts reporting in the non-binding straw poll, Mr Romney had 36 per cent support. Most of the precincts still to report were in pro-Romney King County, which includes the greater Seattle area.
The biggest drama was the race for second place, with only about 250 votes separating US Representative Ron Paul at 25 per cent and former US Senator Rick Santorum at 24.4 per cent. Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich was in fourth place, at 11 per cent.
The outcome marked a fourth state win for Mr Romney this week, after the former Massachusetts governor picked up contests in Michigan, Arizona and Wyoming. He also won the other most recent vote, the Maine caucus on February 11th.
Republicans are seeking a nominee to challenge Democrat Barack Obama in the November 6th presidential election.
"I'm heartened to have won the Washington caucuses, and I thank the voters for their support today," Mr Romney said in posts on Twitter and Facebook.
"The voters of Washington have sent a signal that they do not want a Washington insider in the White House. They want a conservative businessman who understands the private sector.”
A Republican candidate needs 1,144 delegates to win the party's nomination. Some 419 delegates are at stake in the 10 primary and caucus contests on Tuesday.
States voting on Tuesday include Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee and Idaho, Washington's neighbour to the east.
Turnout was heavy at yesterday's caucuses, which gained more attention from candidates and media because of the volatile state of the Republican presidential race and the looming Super Tuesday contests.