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Maryland Primary: Mitt Romney easily defeats Rick Santorum in a moderate state

The polls have closed in the Old Line State and CNN says it can declare the former Massachusetts governor the winner.

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Mitt Romney hands out sandwiches today to supporters at Cousins Subs in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Justin Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images)

Based on exit polling, The Associated Press has declared former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney the winner of tonight's Republican primary in Maryland, according to The New York Times.

According to exit poll figures cited on air by CNN, 49 percent of Republican voters said they chose Romney, versus 29 percent for Rick Santorum and 11 percent and 10 percent for the stragglers Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul respectively.

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Before tonight's result, Romney had 572 delegates, more than twice those won by Rick Santorum and nearly half those needed to win the party's nomination, or 1,144. However the Romney camp will hope that tonight's result will finally persuade the their rivals to end their campaigns to join a party-wide hosanna in favor of the nominee to unseat President Obama.

According to The New York Times, 37 delegates were at stake in the Maryland primary, with 24 appointed by Congressional District (three each) on a winner-take-all basis. Ten so-called at-large delegates and three members of the Republican National Committee are allocated to the winner of the statewide vote. The final three are super delegates who can support the candidate of their choice.

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The Associated Press reports that Romney had spent nearly half of a million dollars in a Maryland television advertising campaign. The news agency said the state appeared to have seen low turnout, as many other states have in this Republican primary season, even for a primary. Participation was 27 percent in 2004 and 25 percent in 1996, according to the news agency.

In a sign that Republican partipation was particularly unenthused, Nate Silver of The Times reports that more Democrats than Republicans actually turned out.

"As of 8:31 pm, Mr Obama had 30,152 votes in the Democratic primary, or about 91 percent of the total cast. Mr Romney, meanwhile, had 11,768 votes in the Republican primary, or 54 percent of the 21,951 votes cast," Silver wrote.