The protracted race for the GOP presidential nomination grew a bit tighter today as Rick Santorum won the Kansas caucuses by an overwhelming margin.
With 97 percents of the precincts reporting in the Sunflower State, Santorum earned 51 percent of the vote, with Mitt Romney second with 21 percent.
Newt Gingrich with 14 percent and Ron Paul with 12 percent to finish in third and fourth, respectively. Alabama and Mississippi hold primaries Tuesday.
Santorum stands to gain a substantial number of Kansas' 40 delegates, which he called crucial to competitive in the race for his party's nomination.
"We have to do well here in Kansas," Santorum said this week in Lenexa, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City. "We have to win here in Kansas, and win big."
Romney and Gingrich largely skipped Kansas in favor of the states voting next week. Santorum and Paul had been the most active campaigners in Kansas.
Romney began the weekend with 339 delegates, with 107 for Gingrich, 95 for Santorum, and 22 for Paul, according to the Republican National Committee.
The RNC totals do not reflect any wins in states where delegates are not bound to the winning candidates, and also differ from various media estimates.
Romney remains the odds-on favorite to win the GOP nod and face off with President Obama in the fall, but his opponents clearly aren't going quietly.
With 1,144 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination, it will take many more weeks for Mitt to reach that total, if he's able to do so at all.