Romney wins Alaska caucuses

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney won the Alaska caucuses on Tuesday night, denying rival Ron Paul his shot at a first win in the primary season.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Romney had 33 percent of the votes cast, followed by former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) at 29 percent.

Paul, who has performed well in past caucus contests, finished third with 24 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) earned 14 percent.

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The state’s 27 delegates will be awarded proportionately later this month. Only Vermont had fewer delegates at stake on Super Tuesday.

The result will be a disappointment for Paul, who is still looking for his first victory in the 2012 nominating race. The Texas lawmaker’s strategy was to focus on geographic pockets in his pursuit of delegates, and he was the only candidate to campaign in Alaska ahead of the vote.

The 49th state looked to be lining up well for Paul ahead of Tuesday’s vote — Alaska has a strong libertarian streak, and Paul holds an enthusiastic base of support that typically buoys him in caucus-style elections.

Romney was the only other candidate to reach out to the Last Frontier State, sending his son, Josh, as a surrogate.

Romney also had the highest-profile endorsement in the state, winning the backing of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Romney, the GOP front-runner, won the Alaska caucuses in 2008, but did so with fewer than 6,000 votes. Fewer than 15,000 people participated in the Alaska Republican caucuses that year.