Newt Gingrich cruised to winning Georgia's Republican presidential primary Tuesday, his one bright spot on a night he finished only as high as third in other Super Tuesday voting.
Georgia was among 10 states selecting delegates Tuesday. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won in , Vermont, , Idaho and Alaska. CNN and other networks projected a Romney victory in a tight race in . Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum won in Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota.
With 99 percent of Georgia's precincts reporting, Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker, was leading with 47.2 percent of the vote, followed by Romney at 25.9 percent, Santorum at 19.6 percent and Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 6.6 percent.
Romney and Santorum were running neck-and-neck for second place in Georgia until results filtered in from larger metro counties.
Going into Tuesday, Gingrich had a significant lead in the state he represented in Congress for 20 years, according to several polls. How close were the pollsters?
- CNN gave him 47 percent in its last pre-election poll, with Romney at 24 percent, Santorum at 15 percent and Paul at 9 percent.
- The numbers were similar in a Public Policy Polling of North Carolina poll—47 percent for Gingrich, 24 percent for Romney, 19 percent for Santorum and 8 percent for Paul.
- Landmark/Rosetta Stone in Gwinnett County put Gingrich at 44 percent, Romney at 23 percent, Santorum at 17 percent and Paul at 7 percent.
Patch had updates from the real polls all day, and updated the results Tuesday night in the blog above. For those of you coming to us on a mobile device, here's an RSS feed where you can read the blog.
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The system Georgia uses to distribute its 76 delegates is a bit complicated. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains it, each of the 14 new congressional districts awards three delegates, for a total of 42, and 34 are selected proportionally based on statewide results.
If a candidate gets a majority in a congressional district, he gets all three delegates. Otherwise, the top vote-getter receives two delegates, and the runner-up gets one.
In the statewide distribution, a candidate needs at least 20 percent of the vote to get a share. Nine candidates were on the GOP ballot: Gingrich, Romney, Santorum, Paul, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer. Only President Barack Obama is on the Democratic ballot.
Official delegate counts were not available Election Night, but assuming Santorum finishes below 20 percent statewide, Romney remains the winner of the new 5th and 6th Congressional Districts, and Gingrich tops 50 percent in six districts—the situation with 99 percent of precincts in—the unofficial counts look like this:
- Gingrich, 55.
- Romney, 18.
- Santorum, three.
If you saw Romney ads in Georgia attacking Santorum instead of Gingrich, the goal likely was to knock the former senator below 20 percent, not to give Romney a shot at beating Gingrich.
Nationally, Romney and Santorum were dueling in most of the 10 states voting on Super Tuesday. was the biggest prize after Georgia with 63 delegates being elected. Also holding primaries were Massachusetts, Vermont, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia (only Romney and Paul were on the ballot), while Idaho, North Dakota and Alaska were holding caucuses, The Huffington Post reports.
Gingrich is counting on a mixed bag of results, ultimately leading to no candidate winning the 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination at the Republican National Convention at the end of August in Tampa, FL, the AJC says.