Update 5:30 a.m. March 4
These are the final straw poll numbers as of 11 p.m. SaturdayCandidate Votes Percentage Newt Gingrich 5,221 10.28% Ron Paul 12,594 24.81% Mitt Romney 19,111 37.65% Rick Santorum 12,089 23.81% Undecided/Other 1,749 3.44%
At least , according to Redmond Patch.
Updated at 8:15 p.m.
Romney has declared victory in the Washington caucus straw poll. for a complete story.
Updated at 6:42 p.m.
Romney has about 37 percent of the vote, which is about a 13 percentage point lead over Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.
Romney's campaign released the following statement:
“I’m heartened to have won the Washington caucuses, and I thank the voters for their support. Every day that passes with Barack Obama in the White House is a day in which America’s recovery from the economic crisis is delayed. Unemployment here in Washington was recently as high as 10.2 percent. It’s wonderful that it has declined to 8.3 percent. But that is still an unacceptable level, bringing hardship and suffering and sleepless nights to too many American homes. I believe in an America in which everyone seeking work can find it.
“I’m in this race because I believe that America can be turned around, that we don’t have to accept unemployment over 8 percent as a new normal. I don’t believe we have to accept a national debt that is as large as our entire economy. I don’t believe we have to accept taxes and regulations that cripple economic growth. We don’t have to accept a national health care scheme that will impose the will of Washington bureaucrats on every American healthy or ill. And we don’t have to accept a President who divides our country even as he misgoverns it.
“Once again, I congratulate my fellow Republicans on a campaign well waged. We may differ from one another in background and experience. But we are united in our love of this country, and in our belief that with proper leadership America can do much better. The voters of Washington have sent a signal that they do not want a Washington insider in the White House. They want a conservative businessman who understands the private sector and knows how to get the federal government out of the way so that the economy can once again grow vigorously. With the support of Washington’s voters, I look forward with optimism to the primaries and caucuses to come.”
The final results have not been released yet. Patch will update this story when more numbers are reported.
Updated: 5:50 p.m.
Mitt Romney's lead appears to be holding, as the Washington State Republican Party reports new numbers with partial results from King and Pierce counties.
CNN is calling the state for Romney, based on its projections.
However, Washington State Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur stressed that the party is waiting for the rest of the votes -- more than half left to go -- to be counted.
Romney: 37.21 percent
Paul: 24.08 percent
Santorum: 23.87 percent
Gingrich: 11.39 percent
Undecided 3.25 percent
Other 0.19 percent
In Pierce County, with half of the 29th Congressional District counted, Romney came out on top with 142 votes. Paul had 99 votes, Santorum 95 and Gingrich 51.
In King County, with the 1, 31, 47, 48 Congressional Districts counted, Romney had 1,294 votes, Paul had 483 votes, Santorum had 464 votes and Gingrich had 178 votes.
Romney state party chairman, former State Sen. Dino Rossi, said that the campaign was pleased by the results so far.
"I think a lot of people are saying, we're running a race against Barack Obama, and let's get on with it," Rossi said.
He said that Romney's supporters in were able to make the case to those who were not strongly in favor of the former Massachusetts governor, by touting his business experience and executive office experience.
"By the time we were done, we were 12 votes for Romney, and none for anyone else," Rossi said.
He said that support for Romney in this state was strong, with Thursday night's fundraiser at Meydenbauer Center drawing three times the expected donations, and more than the expected number of RSVPs.
According to Wilbur, the turnout for the caucus has already exceeded 2008 numbers manifold, which he said bodes well for Republicans in the fall.
The straw poll is nonbinding, but it indicates the caucus-goers preferences at the start of the caucus.
Updated: 4:55 p.m.
Mitt Romney appears to be gaining, as more straw poll votes are added to the total.
So far, 17,114 votes have been counted, with Romney taking 35.64 percent of the vote. Santorum and Paul are tied with 24.5 percent, and Gingrich is fourth with 11.85 percent of the vote.
King, Pierce and Snohomish have yet to report their vote totals, though that is expected within the hour, state Republican Party chairman Kirby Wilbur reported.
Original Story: 3:49 p.m.
Mitt Romney was ahead in early results Saturday from straw poll voting at Washington Republican caucuses.
The early results are from the small counties, and the five most populous counties, including Pierce, King and Snohomish, have not finished reporting yet.
"I would point out that it's small, these are small counties without a lot of population," state Republican Party chairman Kirby Wilbur said.
The counties that have yet to complete reporting include Pierce, King, Snohomish, Clark and Spokane.
"When those counties come in, those could change radically because they have a large number of voters there."
In the smaller counties of the state, Romney captured 31.5 percent of the vote. Ron Paul took second with 26.9 percent of the vote, Rick Santorum took 24.4 percent and Newt Gingrich took 12.9 percent of the early results.
The results were after just under 4,000 votes counted, which Wilbur said was a small portion of the total votes counted.
He said that predictions of record turnout appear to be accurate.
Santorum and Paul were both in Eastern Washington on Thursday, which may have helped their causes in the Eastern side of the state, Wilbur said.
"Rick Santorum coming in third shows me that he still has a lot of appeal out there," Wilbur said.
"I expected Romney and Paul to be at the top because they've been the ones working it," he said. "I expected a two-man race, between Gov. Romney and Congressman Paul, because they have been working the problem the longest and caucus is about turnout. Caucus is about having people on the ground, contacting your supporters and getting them out. And they appear so far to have done a pretty good job at that."
The Washington State Republican Party was expected to release full caucus results Saturday evening. This story will be updated when results are released for King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
Republicans gathered in community centers and schools all over the state Saturday morning for the precinct caucuses, which had people lining up out the doors at some locations with much higher turnout than in previous years. The Puget Sound .
More attention has been put on the Washington state caucus than in past years, because of the hotly contested GOP presidential nomination process. Though Romney is still widely considered to be the front-runner, Santorum has won four of the 11 state contests so far, with Romney taking six states and former Speaker of the House Gingrich taking one state.
Washington also is the only state holding a caucus on Saturday, and the results could give a boost to the winner leading up to next week's Super Tuesday, when Republicans in 10 states will decide which candidate to back in the election against President Obama.