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Rick Santorum scored another two wins in the race for the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday night, indicating a potentially protracted race ahead.

The former U.S. Senator won the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, overcoming the financial advantages of Mitt Romney and Southern allegiances to Newt Gingrich.

Santorum strengthened his candidacy as the GOP campaign rolls into a state-by-state delegates battle in the weeks, and very possibly months, ahead.

An aggressive push by Romney to try and capitalize on the still-divided conservative electorate failed to take hold, and he finished third in both states.

Santorum Wins Again

“We did it again,” Santorum said, addressing jubilant supporters in Louisiana, which votes next week. “The time is now for conservatives to pull together.”

The outcome of the Alabama and Mississippi primaries bolstered Santorum’s argument that he should emerge as the final GOP competitor to Romney.

But Gingrich, who finished a close second in both states, noted that he earned about as many delegates as his rivals, and pledged to continue on.

“The elite media’s efforts to convince the nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable just collapsed,” Gingrich said, addressing a subdued crowd here in Birmingham.

“If you’re the front-runner and you come in third, you’re not much of a front-runner.”

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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.

R Santorum Pic

"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.

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared to pull off a narrow win in Ohio on Super Tuesday but lost several other states to challenger Rick Santorum.

The day of 10 primaries and caucuses produced no knockout punch, rather another split verdict that overshadowed Romney’s claim of collecting the most delegates.

Romney remains ahead in the delegate count, and thus the race for the nomination, but any hopes of asserting himself as the inevitable nominee fell short again.

Romney Ohio Pic

Far from bringing more clarity to the GOP presidential race as some in the party had hoped, Tuesday’s elections gave every candidate cause to keep driving forward.

Newt Gingrich won a definitive victory in Georgia. Santorum won in Tennessee, North Dakota and Oklahoma. Ron Paul even posted several second-place finishes.

Romney won Massachusetts, where he served as governor; Virginia, where neither Gingrich nor Santorum qualified for the ballot; and Vermont, Idaho and Alaska.

In Ohio, The Associated Press named Romney the winner early this morning, though some news outlets have not called it yet, and Santorum has not conceded.

Regardless of that outcome, Ohio's tight race and his defeats elsewhere show continuing vulnerabilities for Romney on both geographic and ideological grounds.

Even with most people operating under the assumption that he remains the most likely GOP nominee, he has nonetheless lost states across several regions.

Just the same, he's winning. With 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination, Romney has 332 delegates to Santorum’s 139, Gingrich's 73 and Paul's 35.

Super Tuesday results by state after the jump ...

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Mitt Romney won Washington state's Republican caucuses this weekend, gaining a boost heading into Super Tuesday tomorrow, March 6, when 11 states hold contests.

The choice isn't binding. Romney won 37.6 percent of vote. He's put together a bit of a win streak, also carrying Wyoming, Arizona and Michigan within the last week.

Ron Paul edged Rick Santorum for second place with both receiving about 25 percent of the vote, with Newt Gingrich coming in fourth with 11 percent of the vote.

Mitt Romney Picture

Republican contests on March 6 include Ohio, a swing state that President Obama, a Democrat, won in 2008 and Republican President George W. Bush won in 2004.

Polls there are very close, while Santorum has the edge in Oklahoma and Tennessee, and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich leads surveys in Georgia.

Romney is expected to win Massachusetts, Vermont and likely Virginia. Paul will continue to be a factor everywhere, particularly in states with caucus formats.

The 2012 Washington Republican Caucus results:

  1. Mitt Romney 19,111 (37.6%)
  2. Ron Paul 12,594 (24.8%)
  3. Rick Santorum 12,089 (23.8%)
  4. Newt Gingrich 5,221 (10.3%)
  5. Other 1,749 (3.4%)

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has won Wyoming's presidential caucus vote, a series of county straw polls that took place over the last three weeks.

At 39 percent, Romney bested Rick Santorum (32 percent), Ron Paul (21 percent) and Newt Gingrich (8 percent). The Wyoming GOP released the results Wednesday.

Like Iowa's caucus, Wyoming's is not binding and will in no way affect the state's 29 delegates to the national convention, where the nominee will be formally chosen.

GOP Contenders

More attention will likely be paid to Wyoming's county conventions, held March 6-10, which will directly elect 12 delegates to the Republican National Convention.

Its April state convention, which will elect another 14 delegates ... none of which will be allocated (or "bound") to any of the four remaining presidential candidate.

Each will have to announce support for a candidate or "undecided." Confused yet?

Only 2,108 total votes were cast in Wyoming, the least populous U.S. state (fun fact). Nevada, the next smallest caucus to date, saw more than 30,000 GOP votes.

Also like in Iowa, the precinct caucuses served another function, besides recording a presidential-preference vote: electing delegates to Wyoming's later conventions.

If Romney's win in Wyoming is any indication, he'll receive more backing than his rivals from Wyoming's unbound national delegates at the GOP convention.

Romney won Michigan and Arizona Tuesday. Ten states cast ballots next week, on Super Tuesday, in an increasingly important date for his three competitors.

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Mitt Romney won the Michigan primary narrowly over Rick Santorum Tuesday, reclaiming some momentum in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

He also won Arizona, by a much bigger margin.

Romney needed to win both, but especially Michigan (where he grew up when his father was governor) to assert his ability to regain his tarnished frontrunner status.

A Santorum win in Michigan would have raised questions about how strong a candidate Romney is within the GOP, and even a narrow defeat may have done so.

Nevertheless, Romney was 2-for-2 last night. Whether that gives him a critical boost heading into 10 "Super Tuesday" primaries March 6 remains an open question.

Empirically, Michigan's 30 delegates to the Republican convention, where the nominee is actually chosen this summer, will be allocated on a proportional basis.

That's in contrast to Romney's victory in Arizona, which was both expected and more thorough, netting him all 29 delegates in that state's winner-take-all primary.

Santorum portrayed his Michigan defeat as better than expected, even after leading in the polls earlier this month, given Romney's financial and territorial edge.

"This was going to be Romney's night. The question was how big. And it wasn't very big," Santorum said, adding that it's a "two-person race right now" with Mitt.

Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, despite finishing a distant third and fourth Tuesday, have both indicated they are still in this for the long haul to amass delegates.

The Arizona and Michigan primary results, according to Real Clear Politics:

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As has become our post-debate tradition, here's a highlight reel of last night's Republican CNN gathering in Arizona ... featuring Ron Paul and only Ron Paul.

He may be marginalized by the mainstream media, but he's shown no signs of quitting the GOP race, and was dishing it out left and right Wednesday.

Like a boss.

In particular, Paul took it to Rick Santorum so hard over his federal spending record, some are speculating that he made an alliance with Mitt Romney.

It's probably just that - speculation - but make no mistake, the Texas Congressman was on his game at last night's Republican debate. Take a look:

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Arizona hosted the 20th GOP debate of this election cycle last night, and what followed was a wide-ranging discussion of issues ... and a familiar personal slap-fest.

It's all the same, only the names change. Wednesday, it was Rick Santorum in the coveted, yet also unfortunate role of the guy Mitt Romney trains his sights on.

Romney and Santorum clashed over the federal government's power in a high-stakes debate that might have been the last in the roller-coaster campaign.

Ron Paul was Ron Paul, defiantly making the case for liberty and getting far too little screen time. Newt Gingrich? He may have effectively called it quits.

The combative, knock-'em-out Newt was AWOL. Instead, the jovial Uncle Newt was back, playing everyone's wingman (and promising $2.50/gallon gas).

It was like mid-to-late 2011 again as Gingrich the enthusiastic, vigorously nodding candidate who would never speak ill of a fellow Republican resurfaced.

Even with his now-infamous media foil, CNN's John King, as the moderator, too. Go figure. A shift in strategy as he looks for a third comeback? Maybe.

He'd surely take it if it happened. But equally likely is that his moment passed, he knows it, and is looking to mend fences with his rivals and America.

The debate was held in the southwestern state of Arizona six days before primaries there and in Romney's native Michigan, which he loves everything about.

Romney still faces skepticism among Republicans who dislike his shifting stances on issues, but it was Santorum being called a "fake" conservative by Paul.

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Mitt Romney eked out a narrow win in Maine's Republican caucuses, state party officials announced Saturday, beating Ron Paul by approximately three percent.

The victory, however slim, offers the candidate a boost after three straight losses to Rick Santorum last week. How far it will carry him remains to be seen.

The former Massachusetts governor earned 39 percent of the vote, while Paul took 36 percent, his strongest showing by share of the vote so far in the campaign.

Paul also finished second to Romney in neighboring New Hampshire.

Romney and Paul

Santorum got 18 percent of the vote in Maine and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has faded since winning South Carolina, had 6 percent.

While the Maine results don’t immediately offer any convention delegates to Romney, they give him renewed momentum - at least according to Romney, who said:

“The voters of Maine sent a clear message that it is past time to send an outsider to the White House, a conservative with a lifetime of experience in the private sector, who can uproot a culture of taxing, spending, borrowing and endless bureaucracy.”

The Maine results are based on votes cast at 84 percent of municipal caucuses that have been conducted to date; the rest will be held by March 20.

The state’s delegates to the Republican convention will be allocated in May. Because the results aren't officially complete, Paul did not concede defeat.

“It’s almost like we could call it a tie,” he told supporters.

Again, Maine's party officials have declared Romney the winner. However, with 16 percent of the caucuses - many in counties where Paul is poised to do well - postponed due to inclement weather, it's still possible for Paul to overtake him.

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Rick Santorum's Colorado and Missouri caucus wins put a nice dent in Mitt Romney's aura of inevitability, but didn't come close to overtaking him in the delegate count.Mitt Romney Picture

On the other hand, he has just 87 of 1,144 delegates needed to win the GOP nomination, with more than 80 percent of the U.S. still awaiting a chance to be heard.

Take away Florida's winner-take-all primary - one of only two such races so far - and his total would be even less impressive. Take a look at the delegate count so far:

Delegates 2/8

The "non-binding" states allow their delegates, or a portion of them, to change their minds regardless of the election results, though they are unlikely to do so.

Some delegates are also "unpledged," meaning they are not tied to election results, which is why not all of the totals in the table above (by Real Clear Politics) add up.

Jon Huntsman won two delegates in New Hampshire, but is no longer in the race. As for the first contest, Iowa, CNN offers a different tabulation altogether.

It's confusing, to say the least, but offers an indication of where things are headed after last night, and looking ahead to the Super Tuesday elections on March 6.

Missouri's primary yesterday was non-official, so it is not included above. That state holds its caucus March 17, at which point delegates will actually be awarded.

Maine's caucuses are a week-long affair, concluding this Sunday. Arizona and Michigan are the next primaries on the Republican schedule, both set for February 28.

Washington votes March 3, with Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Alaska, Virginia, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Idaho, Massachusetts and Vermont all casting ballots March 6.

Below is the aggregate and state-by-state popular vote as of today. By this measure, Romney's lead is even less significant, as he's won well under half the votes:

Pop. Vote 2/8

The question remains: Can Santorum, Newt Gingrich and/or Ron Paul mount a serious offensive in the coming weeks that will make this a race beyond March 6?

Right now, it's still wide open, but with hundreds of delegates up for grabs on or before that date, a Romney sweep could finally propel him ahead of the field.

He would still be a long way from clinching the Republican presidential nomination, but from a financial and momentum standpoint, that may be his opponents' last stand.

If no candidate makes it to 1,144 by the end of the primary season this summer, the winner would be brokered/decided at the Republican National Convention.

Wouldn't that be something ...