By Rachel La Corte
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Mitt Romney has won Washington state’s presidential straw poll.
With about 54 percent of the precinct votes counted by early evening today, Romney has 37 percent of the vote, followed by Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, who were tied at 24 percent. Newt Gingrich had 11 percent.
Republicans had predicted up to 60,000 people attending today’s caucuses. The results released this afternoon were based on more than 21,000 votes counted from 30 of the state’s 39 counties. Romney has won 18 of the counties, Paul has won eight and Santorum has won two.
While the caucuses are a nonbinding contest, state Republicans say it could create momentum for the four candidates on their last stop before Super Tuesday, where voting takes place in 10 states.
Washington state will send 43 delegates to the national convention in Tampa in August, and the caucuses are the first in a multistep process to officially allocate 40 of those delegates to a candidate. Three additional are automatic delegates, and include the state party chairman.[Caucuses in Clallam and Jefferson counties also favored Romney — but the two counties differed on the runner-up. Find out which county placed Ron Paul in the No. 2 spot at www.peninsuladailynews.com starting at 12:30 a.m. Sunday.)