ByLeigh Ann Caldwell, CBS News
CBS News projects former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will win the Washington caucuses.
WithÂ 3,866Â ofÂ 6,785Â precincts counted so far, Romney has 36 percent of the vote. Rep. Ron Paul and former Senator Rick Santorum are in a close race for second and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a distance fourth.
The state has 40 delegates at stake, but the caucus votes are technically non-binding. CBS News estimates the potential delegate breakdown based on results from the caucus process. Today’s caucuses are the start of a process in the state to award delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Even though the results are non-binding, the candidates took the contest seriously by campaigning or running ads there — hoping to use a bit of good news propelling them into “Super Tuesday.”
With a projected win, Mitt Romney gets to reap the benefits. “With the support of Washington’s voters, I look forward with optimism to the primaries and caucuses to come,” Romney said in a statement.
In just three days, ten states hold their nominating contests – seven primaries and three caucuses – and it could be a pivotal moment this campaign season that has been distinctive for not having a distinctive winner.
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