Projections: Romney wins big in Florida primary

The Florida primary, an election that never seemed close but always seemed to have someone else with a commanding lead, has been won by the man who was leading months ago.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor, took home a big win on Tuesday in the Sunshine State, according to projections by various media outlets. With some 51 percent of precincts reporting, Romney had a nearly 17 point lead over Newt Gingrich. Most polls in Florida closed at 7 p.m. eastern time, but a small number, in the Florida panhandle, closed just a few minutes ago, at 7 p.m. central time.

Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, was running in third with 13 percent of the vote and Rep. Ron Paul, who hadn’t campaigned in Florida recently, had just 7 percent support.

Romney’s victory marks a remarkable turnaround from just 10 days ago. In the wake of a stunning defeat in South Carolina, Romney fell behind Gingrich by double digits. But with a barrage of negative advertising and spending, as well as a lot of old fashioned campaigning, Romney not only surpassed Gingrich but built up a massive margin.

The campaign now shifts to Maine and Nevada, which hold caucuses this weekend. Paul and Santorum had both already moved their campaigns to Nevada, where both addressed crowds of supporters in the wake of their poor showing in Florida.

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