Rick Santorum beats Romney in Tennessee GOP primary

Rick Santorum beats Romney in Tennessee GOP primary

March 6th, 2012 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in Washington, Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

ERIK SCHELZIG,Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Rick Santorum has won Tennessee's Republican presidential primary.

With 2 percent of precincts reporting, Santorum has 45 percent to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 28 percent.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is in third place with 18 percent, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has 7 percent.

Santorum campaigned in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis in the days before the primary, often in church settings.

Preliminary results from an exit poll conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press show about seven in 10 Tennessee voters identified themselves as born-again Christians, and about three-quarters said it mattered at least somewhat that a candidate shared their religious beliefs.

Tennessee has 55 delegates up for grabs, the third most among the 10 Super Tuesday states.