Super Tuesday results didn’t become clear until early Wednesday, when Mitt Romney edged Rick Santorum by a few thousand votes in Ohio.
And while it might come down to that Rust Belt state, again, when Americans elect a president in November, knowing who will represent Republicans is still anyone’s guess.
“There are three states under our belt, and counting,” Romney said early on, MSNBC reported. “We're going to get more by the time this night is over. … I’m going to get this nomination.”
Romney started the 10-contest marathon capturing Vermont, Virginia and the state he once governed, Massachusetts. He ended it with wins in Ohio and Alaska. Santorum translated his popularity with evangelical and tea party voters into wins in the primarily rural battlegrounds of Oklahoma, North Dakota and Tennessee.
Newt Gingrich received enough support by winning his home state of Georgia to talk about future primaries. Even Texas senator Ron Paul was left with enough votes to remain in the race, for now at least.
“We have won in the West, the Midwest, and the South, and we’re ready to win across this country,” Santorum said in Steubenville, Ohio, CNN reported. “We feel great. That’s all I can say. … We’re in this race. And we’re in it to stay.”
It all came down to Ohio, however. Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, opened a double-digit lead thanks to a virtual sweep in the smaller, rural polls that reported early.
Romney kept coming, though, carrying dense urban areas where it seemed to take longer to tabulate. So much so, that CNN didn’t declare him victor until 12:33 a.m. ET today, and by a mere 12,000 votes among more than 1 million cast.
“Tonight we’re doing some counting,” Romney said, according to CNN. “We’re counting the delegates for the convention and that looks good, and we're counting down the days to the convention, and that looks better.”
Ohio is important because no Republican has ever become president without winning there, CNN said. It's also considered a microcosm for larger American voting patterns.
According to CNN’s running tally as the final polls closed on Super Tuesday, Romney has 369 delegates compared to 158 for Santorum. Gingrich, the former House speaker, has 91 and Paul just 60.
The first to 1,144 will win the Republican presidential nomination and face President Obama. None of the four GOP nominees showed any signs of dropping out on Tuesday.
Gingrich appeared energized by his lopsided victory in Georgia. He was a 20-year member of Congress from the state, and appears convinced his appeal to Southern US voters will carry him to victories in upcoming contests. He’s also pitching a renewed energy plan and $2.50 for a gallon of gas.
“You believed that people can make a difference, that in fact, Wall Street money can be beaten by Main Street work,” he said, USA Today reported. “In the morning, we’re going on to Alabama. We’re going on to Mississippi. We’re going on to Kansas.
“I believe that I am the one candidate who has the ability to debate Barack Obama decisively.”
Ron Paul, a Texas congressman, expected more from Super Tuesday.
He’s long trumpeted his libertarian views, and observers theorized it might work in Alaska and North Dakota (he even watched Super Tuesday unfold from Fargo).
In fact, it was Virginia where he made the most headway – mostly because Gingrich and Santorum didn’t run there.
“We’re going to do well, and that will excite us going forward,” Paul told The Associated Press. “I think it’s a super-good opportunity for us to get votes and a chance to win the states.”
The next primary is Kansas on March 10.