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Romney leads Alaska presidential preference poll

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Posted: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 8:53 pm | Updated: 1:43 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

Updated 10:40 p.m.

FAIRBANKS - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney maintained a strong lead with most of the results counted in the Alaska Republican presidential preference poll held today.

With 4,225 votes, the former Massachusetts Governor took 32.6 percent of the statewide vote. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum took 29 percent, Texas congressman Ron Paul took about 24 percent and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took 14 percent.

At 10:30 p.m., 95 percent of the vote had been counted.

Alaska was one of 10 states to participate in the Republican nomination process today and will divvy up 24 of its delegates according to tonight’s vote.

In Fairbanks, where most Fairbanks North Star Borough election districts voted at the Carlson Center, Paul was the preferred candidate. A wide array of voters — including young and older voters — cast their vote for the libertarian-leaning candidate.

Many voters registered at the poll, either switching party affiliation or signing up for the first time. Paul drew 25-year-old Peter Anderson to register to vote for the first time.

“I don’t know if I would’ve registered this year because I wasn’t enthused with any of the other candidates,” he said.

Voter Randy M. Scott, of East Fairbanks, said he supported Paul because, along with many other Paul supporters, felt Paul was the least “traditional” candidate and that he connected with his small, hands-off vision of government.

“I don’t know if he’s electable or not, but we have to send a message to the establishment,” he said. “I think they should stay out of our business.”

In Fairbanks, Ron Paul had 451 votes, Santorum took 243, Romney had 233 and Gingrich had 105. The results were not included in the state-wide release.

Polling was open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters also said Paul’s campaign stop in Alaska on Sunday influenced their vote. More than 1,000 people in Fairbanks and about 1,500 people in Anchorage attended rallies held by Paul.

Alaska has three other delegates, state party leaders who will attend the national convention as unpledged, bringing the state's overall delegate total to 27.

Front-runner Romney picked up Idaho, Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia and has a 1 percent lead over Santorum in Ohio.

Rick Santorum picked up North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Newt Gingrich won Georgia, his home state.

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