STEUBENVILLE, OHIO, March 7, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Although three of the four Republican presidential candidates could claim victories in the Super Tuesday primaries Tuesday night, analysts say it has become a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Romney won the most delegates: 208 of 419 at stake in the 10 contests held last night. He narrowly edged out Rick Santorum in the biggest contest of the night, Ohio, a political bellwether pivotal to any Republican who hopes to win the White House. Romney also scored clear wins in the Massachusetts, Vermont, and Virginia primaries, as well as the Idaho and Alaska caucuses.

Rick Santorum fulfilled his promise to “get at least a couple of gold medals and a whole passel full of silver medals” by winning primaries in Oklahoma and Tennessee, and a caucus in North Dakota.

Santorum was pushed into third place only in Georgia and Vermont. Romney was first or second everywhere except North Dakota, where Ron Paul had a strong showing.

Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia, making it his second win of the primary season after his victory in South Carolina in January.

Ron Paul, who won no primaries last night, made a strong second place showing in Vermont. He also came in second in Virginia, where only Romney and Paul qualified for the ballot.

Ohio’s razor-thin margin and late reports from large metropolitan areas meant the race was called well after midnight. Romney won in Ohio by eight-tenths of one percent - 37.9 percent to Santorum’s 37.1, or just over 12,300 votes.

Amidst the close loss, Santorum’s supporters point to their candidate’s lack of funds. Romney’s campaign and his super PAC, Restore Our Future, outspent Santroum and his allied groups by a margin of 4-to-1 in Super Tuesday states. Santorum’s name did not appear on the ballot in certain parts of the state, such as Steubenville, a heavily Catholic, conservative city just minutes from Pennsylvania.

Exit polls showed a stark contrast between the two men’s constituencies.

Romney won urban voters in the state’s three largest cities: Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati and their surrounding suburbs. He did well in Dayton, Akron, and Canton. Santorum swept the state everywhere else, piling up large majorities in the state’s rural districts.

Romney’s supporters, in Super Tuesday as in other contests, have been the best educated, the most affluent, and those whose top priorities are the economy or electability.

Ohio exit polls follow a familiar trend for Rick Santorum, showing he polled best among evangelical Christians, and those who said they support the Tea Party or consider themselves “very conservative.”

Mitt Romney won Ohio’s Catholic voters by 12 percentage points.

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The scattered results and fluid nature of the race keep any of the candidates from establishing themselves as prohibitive favorites. All vowed to fight on last night.

Speaking before his home state in a speech that lasted 27 minutes, Newt Gingrich reflected on previous Republican challengers, including Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry. “There’s lots of bunny rabbits that run through,” he said. “I’m the tortoise.”

He then challenged Barack Obama to seven, three-hour debates, offering that the president could use a teleprompter.

Flanked by his 93-year-old mother, Rick Santorum saluted the Greatest Generation in a speech in Steubenville, Ohio, before talking about his own resilience. “We’ve won races all over this country against the odds,” he said. “When they thought, ‘Oh, OK, he’s finally finished,’ we keep coming back.”

Taking note of growing government dependence, Santorum said once the president’s health care law takes effect, “every single American will be looking to the federal government – not to their neighbor, not to their church, not to their business or to their employer, or to the community or nonprofit organization in their community” as “the allocator and creator of rights in America.” 

“This is the beginning of the end of freedom in America,” he said.

Taking aim at Mitt Romney, he said, “I’ve never been for an individual mandate at a state or a federal level.”

Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, spoke to an enthusiastic crowd in Boston, thanking state chairs and coordinators like Alaska’s U.S. Senator, Lisa Murkowski.

After thanking all his opponents by name, Mitt Romney turned his attention to the general election.

“President Obama seems to believe he’s unchecked by the Constitution,” Romney told the crowd. “He’s unresponsive to the will of our people. He operates by command instead of by consensus. In a second term, he’d be unrestrained by the demands of re-election. And if there’s one thing we cannot afford is four years of Barack Obama with no one to answer to.”

Over the next week the states of Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Hawaii will choose their candidates for the GOP presidential nomination.