Mitt Romney won a straw poll in Washington state’s Republican caucuses, gaining a boost heading into Super Tuesday on March 6 when 11 states hold Republican presidential contests.
The choice isn’t binding. Romney won 37.6 percent of the straw poll votes, cast yesterday as participants entered the caucuses, according to final results posted automatically on the Washington State Republican party website.
Ron Paul was second with 24.8 percent of the votes and Rick Santorum came third with 23.8 percent. Former U.S House Speaker Newt Gingrich came in fourth with 10.3 percent of the votes.
“The voters of Washington have sent a signal that they do not want a Washington insider in the White House,” Romney said in a statement yesterday. “They want a conservative businessman who understands the private sector and knows how to get the federal government out of the way so that the economy can once again grow vigorously. With the support of Washington’s voters, I look forward with optimism to the primaries and caucuses to come.”
Republican contests on March 6 include Ohio, a swing state that President Barack Obama, a Democrat, won in 2008 and Republican President George W. Bush won in 2004 in the general elections. Polls give Santorum the edge in Oklahoma and Tennessee, and Gingrich leads surveys in his home state of Georgia.
Delegates chosen in Washington yesterday participate in later selection events leading to the state convention that begins May 30. The state sends 43 delegates to the national Republican convention, 40 of them bound to a candidate for one round of voting and three unpledged delegates selected by the state Republican committee.
There’s no party registration in Washington, so voters were asked to sign a form saying they are Republicans. They were to write their presidential preference on sign-in sheets, the state Republican Party said in a memo distributed by e-mail.
Romney told listeners in Bellevue, Washington, on March 2 that their backing could bolster his momentum heading into Super Tuesday.
“There are going to be a bunch of states that are going to make their mind up in the next couple of days, but you guys are first,” the former Massachusetts governor said.
Other Super Tuesday contests include primaries in Virginia, where only Romney and Paul are on the ballot, Massachusetts and Vermont, and caucuses in Alaska, Idaho, and North Dakota. Wyoming also begins its delegate-selection process at county conventions that start on March 6, with some results reported, and end on March 10.
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