Update: Sunday, March 4, 12 p.m. The Washington State Republican Party released the following message.
As of 10:52 PM the final results of the Washington State Republican Party 2012 Caucus were reported.
WSRP Chairman Kirby Wilbur released the following statement after the final numbers were received:
"I am excited with the record turnout of Republican voters to the caucus. I predicted around 50,000 people would attend the caucus and we had 50,764 vote in the straw poll.
"Not only were these attendees excited to have a voice in the Republican nomination process, but they were sending a clear message that President Obama's lack of economic recovery and disregard of the impact that his extremely high gas prices has on the average Washington working family, or non-working family because of his failed economic policies, will not be tolerated."
Detailed results will be released on Monday. Below are the final votes. Candidate Votes Percentage Newt Gingrich 5,221 10.28% Ron Paul 12,594 28.81% Mitt Romney 19,111 37.65% Rick Santorum 12,089 23.81% Undecided/Other 1,749 3.44%
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney declared victory after several news reports projected him to win the straw poll in Saturday’s Washington State Caucus.
Romney got a lead in early results, with more than 35 percent of the vote, and he held onto that lead as bigger counties started reporting their straw poll results.
Challengers Ron Paul and Rick Santorum were running nearly even behind him. Click here for the full results.Candidate
(via Walker Allen)
(81.3% reporting)Mitt Romney 41%
15,980Ron Paul 19%
11,102Rick Santorum 25%
10,924Newt Gingrich 11%
While the straw poll results were not binding, they indicate the preferences of the participants in the caucus, and “it would be fair” to expect that the numbers reflect how the delegates will vote in the upcoming district, county and state caucuses, said Washington State Republican Chairman Kirby Wilbur.
In a prepared statement, Romney signaled that he is looking forward to the campaign in the fall.
“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.”
Read his .
Romney's state party co-chairman, former State Sen. Dino Rossi, said before the final results were released that the campaign was pleased with Washington’s results.
"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.
Rossi 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.
Though final numbers were not in, state Republicans were expecting a turnout of about 50,000 participants in the caucus, Wilbur said.
According to Wilbur, the turnout for the caucus heavily exceeded 2008 numbers, which brought in just under 14,000 participants, which he said bodes well for Republicans in the fall – and doesn’t bode well for Democrats.
“Give me 50,000 volunteers anytime,” he said.
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 .
At the 26th District Pierce County caucus, more than 700 people gathered at a packed in Gig Harbor Saturday morning.
Thomas Settles said Romney is the most electable candidate, and his private sector experience is important in the key issues, including balancing the budget and creating jobs.
“He’s made a big issue saying he wants to balance the budget and cut spending, and I think he’s most qualified to help the private sector grow jobs,” Settles said, who served as the precinct committee officer for Precinct 230.
Deputy District Leader Dennis Kranz also said he likes the chances of Romney facing President Obama in November.
“Mitt Romney would be an outstanding candidate. He’s an excellent debater and he’s very knowledgeable about the issues given his experience both in government and the private sector,” Kranz said.
On the other hand, Ron Paul supporter Dennis Falk, who also served as the Sergeant-at-Arms, said the national polls indicated that Paul would be the best person to beat Obama in the general election.
“He’s a constitutionalist, he’s concerned about the economy and he has a budget plan to reduce $1 trillion off the national debt immediately or the next budget,” Falk said. “We need to reduce the size of government; we need to get gold and silver back in our paper. There’s only one candidate out of the four right now that have the guts to do that, and Ron Paul is that man.”
Another Paul fan, Nathan Misura, said he likes what the 76-year-old GOP candidate has said so far.
“Ron Paul isn’t backed by every corporation and bank,” Misura, 23, said, who is participating in his first presidential election. “He’s not too far-fetched for me.”
“He’s solid, he’s consistent, and he thinks before he talks,” Falk added.
The caucus officials and attendees both said they were very pleased with the strong turnout. Allen said organizers had only expected to have about 300 people show up, but he estimated more than 800 people at the end of the event, which wrapped up around 12:30 p.m.
“This is our country, and we need to make sure people have a voice," Allen said.
Kranz said the campaign season has been healthy for the Republican Party so far.
“Candidates are being vetted, the issues are being discussed, and the people can see what they’re getting,” he said.
While the attendees showed support for different candidates and voiced diverse opinions on issues, their passion for the overall Republican Party resonated throughout the room.
Settles said he's disappointed that President Obama has not delivered what he promised four years ago.
“(Obama) said he was going to cut the federal deficit in half, but he’s quadrupled it,” he said. “I’ve talked to a lot of Republicans and some Democrats that voted for Obama, and out of over a hundred of people I’ve talked to, only two of them said they were going to vote for Obama again.”
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 has been 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 Newt Gingrich taking one state.
Washington also is the only state that held a caucus on Saturday, and the results 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.
Wilbur said that Romney’s win in the state, despite variable polling and different results nationwide, was an indicator that Republicans had been undecided about Romney.
“They were waiting for Mitt Romney to make the sale,” Wilbur said.
Wilbur said that Washington state’s news on Saturday can only be good news for Romney.
“It appears to be four in a row. Nobody’s made four in a row yet,” Wilbur said.
“Regardless of who our nominee is we will unite behind our nominee,” Kranz said. “Once our nominee is selected, you’ll see a strong campaign.”