Romney declared the winner in Arizona
PHOENIX (AP) — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won Arizona's presidential preference election Tuesday, with exit polls showing he earned support from a broad cross-section of Republicans.
Jobs and the economy were the issues most important to Arizona's GOP voters, exit polls showed. But voters were split on what to do about the issue of illegal immigration, which has embroiled the state in controversy in recent years but has lost its overarching status.
Only 13 percent of Arizona voters called immigration the most important issue in the race, exit polls showed, and voters were split almost evenly in thirds when asked if illegal immigrants should be deported, allowed to stay as temporary workers or offered a chance to apply for citizenship.
The Arizona Secretary of State's office reports Romney led with 47 percent of the vote. Rick Santorum had 27 percent of the vote, while Newt Gingrich had 16 percent and Ron Paul had 8 percent. There were an additional 19 candidates on the Republican ballot in Arizona, and they all garnered less than one percent.
These numbers represent 87 percent of precincts reporting. Official numbers will not be available until Wednesday.
Maricopa County closely matched statewide results. Romney had 50 percent of the votes, while Santorum had 24 percent and Gingrich had 16 percent.
Romney’s strongest showing was in Graham County, where he had 68 percent of the vote. Santorum’s high tally was in Cochise County, with 34 percent of the vote to Romney’s 39 percent.
The votes in La Paz County were most evenly split. With all precincts reporting, Romney had just 37 percent of the vote there, while Santorum had 28 percent and Gingrich had 24 percent.
In the Green Party presidential preference election, Jill Stein had nearly 70 percent of the vote statewide. Five other candidates had less than 9 percent each.
Voter turnout was about 38 percent overall. Pima County had the highest turnout with 45 percent of registered voters participating, while Maricopa County had an above-state-average turnout of 39 percent.
KJZZ's Steve Goldstein had an election night update from the newsroom.
View Romney's victory speech from Tuesday:
Updated 2/28/12 at 11:04 p.m.