Mitt Romney did what was expected, easily winning New York's Republican presidential primary and padding his delegate lead in his all-but-inevitable march toward the party's nomination.
Romney easily outdistanced Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich on Tuesday and took home a big chunk of delegates in a race marked by low turnout around the heavily Democratic state. Rick Santorum stopped campaigning two weeks ago.
Even with incomplete results still unofficial late Tuesday night, Romney led by about 40 percentage points.
Romney will have a harder time here in November. New York state has 2.8 million registered Republicans, compared with 5.6 million registered Democrats and when he won the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama defeated John McCain in the state by 62 percent to 37 percent.
New York has 95 delegates, the most of any of the five East Coast states that held primaries Tuesday. Romney also swept Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Pennsylvania to widen his lead over Gingrich and Paul in the nomination race for the 1,144 delegates.
With about half the vote counted Tuesday night, The Associated Press had allocated 72 delegates to Romney, including all 34 at-large delegates. Also in play were two delegates from each of New York's current 29 congressional districts, which will go to the winner of each district.
In addition, New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox and two other New York members of the Republican National Committee are "super delegates" who are free to commit to any candidate. Cox has endorsed Romney.
New York Republicans had once hoped to play a major role in the primary race but those hopes faded as Romney solidified his front-runner status and began focusing more on the general election against Obama.
Romney did not even make a public campaign stop in this heavily Democratic state in the run-up to the primary. Gingrich spoke to a rally in Buffalo last week, and Paul appeared at Cornell University.
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