2012 ELECTION

Super Tuesday 2012: Results could alter GOP presidential race

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ATLANTA (AP) - Voting across 10 states marks the busiest day of the Republican race for president and is expected to determine whether Mitt Romney solidifies his status as party front-runner or faces further threats from his challengers.

Super Tuesday states offer a sizable slice of the 1,144 delegates required to clinch the GOP nomination. (Photo: AP)

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are locked in a tight battle for Ohio.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich hopes a big win in Georgia, which he helped represent in Congress for two decades, will give new life to his struggling campaign.

With 419 delegates at stake, Super Tuesday states offer a sizable slice of the 1,144 required to clinch the GOP nomination.

Still, because of the apportionment of delegates based on vote percentage and the different regions the candidates are emphasizing, the race is expected to continue further into March.

Romney, who turned back Santorum in a close contest in Michigan last week, hoped to continue his winning trend.

He has won four consecutive contests, including Saturday's Washington caucuses.

After falling behind Santorum in Ohio last month, Romney has closed the gap in recent days, with polls showing the race a dead heat on the eve of the primary.

It's a familiar trend for Romney, whose superior fundraising and turnout operation have helped him turn deficits in Florida and Michigan into triumphs.

The former venture capital executive kept his campaign's focus on the economy in a final sprint across Ohio, where he and Santorum are competing most fiercely.

"Other people in this race have debated about the economy, they've read about the economy, they've talked about it in subcommittee hearings," Romney said of his opponents.

"But I've actually been in it. I've worked in business and I understand what it takes to get a business successful and to thrive."

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