US & Canada

Mitt Romney wins Washington Republican caucuses

Republican Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks with supporters at the Highland Community Center in Bellevue, Washington
Image caption Mr Romney will be hoping his latest victory gives him momentum ahead of contests next week

US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has won the party's caucuses in the state of Washington.

With most precincts in the state having reported, Mr Romney has won 36% of the vote, with his rivals Rick Santorum and Ron Paul on 25% each.

The results are technically not binding as the state's 43 delegates will not be allocated until a later date.

The candidates are now preparing for Super Tuesday on 6 March, in which 10 states will hold voting contests.

High turnout was reported in the contest, with voters seemingly enthused by the unpredictable nature of the race so far.

"I'm heartened to have won the Washington caucuses, and I thank the voters for their support today," Mr Romneytweeted.

Mr Romney said the result proved Washington's voters wanted "a conservative businessman who understands the private sector".

Republican candidates need to amass 1,114 delegates to clinch the Republican nomination for president and get the chance to challenge President Barack Obama in November.

Mr Romney - long assumed to be the front-runner and favourite for the nomination -the delegate race.

Image caption The candidates are now campaigning in states like Ohio ahead of Super Tuesday

But the mixed outcomes of recent primaries and caucuses, and the prospects for Super Tuesday, appear to indicate that the nomination fight will continue longer than expected.

Earlier this week, Mr Romney won the Arizona primary and all of its 29 delegates, and also won the popular vote in Michigan.

But Michigan's rules for awarding delegates meant Mr Santorum and Mr Romney both ended up with 15 delegates from that contest.

Messrs Romney, Santorum and Gingrich were all campaigning in Ohio on Saturday. Ohio is one of 10 states voting on Super Tuesday, and is also a crucial general election state with a recent history of dividing its presidential votes among Republicans and Democrats.

Super Tuesday strategy

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas congressman Ron Paul are also focusing on next week's contests, which include Mr Gingrich's home state of Georgia.

Mr Gingrich is leading polls in the state, withone recent surveyputting him as much as 15% ahead of Mr Santorum.

The former House of Representatives Speaker has conceded Georgia is a state he must win if he hopes to continue his campaign.

He won January's South Carolina primary following a surge in his popularity, but has since seen his poll numbers fade. An independent committee supporting Mr Romney funded numerous attack ads in the run-up to the primary in Florida.

Neither Mr Gingrich nor Mr Santorum is on the ballot in one Super Tuesday state, Virginia, having not met the filing deadline, virtually assuring Mr Romney of a strong win there.

Mr Paul is focusing on states that will hold caucuses, where he believes he has the most likely chance of winning delegates.