Jane Prendergast reports
Ohioans chose Mitt Romney on Super Tuesday, though barely and with little enthusiasm.
The single biggest day in the Republican primary race was as tight a race in the Buckeye State as polls predicted. With 99 percent of the votes counted, Romney had 38 percent compared to Rick Santorum’s 37 percent. Newt Gingrich followed with 15 percent, Ron Paul, 9.
The end was too close to call for most of the night – an exciting end to a day that otherwise left many voters underwhelmed. Turnout locally and throughout the state was low, perhaps because of attitudes like that of Joelle Ragland. She voted in Mount Washington for Romney, but only because he was the least of the “evils.”
Santorum’s “too out there,” she said, and “I loathe Newt Gingrich” because he left one of his wives when she was sick with cancer.
“I’m still not quite sure about Romney,” the 39-year-old homemaker said as she left her polling place at St. Rose Church, “but it seems the best of what I had to work with.”
In Hamilton County, Romney beat Santorum 49 percent to 29 percent. In Warren County: 41 to 34.
In the last week of the campaign, all but Ron Paul raced across Ohio from one town to another, with a few breaks to work on GOP voters in Georgia and Tennessee.
Santorum spent the most time campaigning here – 17 events in eight days over the past month. Female, older and wealthier voters favored Romney, exit polls showed, while Santorum did better in suburban and rural areas, with younger and very conservative people. Romney outspent Santorum in the state by more than $3 million.
A Santorum win in Ohio would have been a major blow to Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has been struggling to assert himself as the unquestioned front-runner for the GOP nomination.
The delegate totals after Super Tuesday, as counted by the Associated Press: Romney 415, Santorum 176, Gingrich 75, Paul, 47. A candidate needs 1,144 to secure the nomination.
Romney won 35 delegates in Ohio and Santorum won 21, according to Associated Press.
“We’ll get a couple gold medals and passel of silver medals,” Santorum said at his Election Night party in Steubenville. “We’ve won in the West, the South and the Midwest. We’re ready to win across this country.”
Romney, at a party in Boston, said: “I’m going to get this nomination.” (more…)