Mitt Romney was projected to finish first in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday night by Fox News.

The win came as expected for the former Massachusetts governor, who led in recent polls leading up to the primary.

"Tonight, I’m asking the good people of Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island to join me. Join me in the next step toward that destination of November 6th, when across America we can give a sigh of relief and know that the Promise of America has been kept," said Romney.

Romney had the endorsements of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Ron. Johnson (R-Wisc.)

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) lost an opportunity to rock the GOP race, coming in second. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were in a distant third and fourth.

Click here for a rundown on who's ahead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Below, a live blog of the latest developments to unfold on primary day.

live blog

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@ AlexNBCNews : And my answer... Newt statement on results 2nite: "I am committed to carrying the banner of bold conservative colors all the way to Tampa"

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@ michaelpfalcone : If we look back at WI as a turning point, it's voters like these that helped Romney get there http://t.co/GA4184kX

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@ nyformitt : Drudge mocks Santorum. Again. Rick, pls spare yourself further embarrassment. Do the right thing, endorse Romney. Again http://t.co/O6UZavaL

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@ EmilyABC : Romney hasn't heard from Santorum yet, per @Rick_Gorka

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@ MittRomney : Thank you WI! Tonight we’ve taken another big step toward making @BarackObama a one-term president http://t.co/Y5MxCsdw

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Democrats are deeply invested in keeping the Republican primary going. And the statement offered by Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz following Mitt Romney's three primary wins on Tuesday night showed that desire from the first sentence.

Mitt Romney has significantly more work to do before he can become the Republican nominee, and he is doing incredible damage to himself along the way. His pandering to the extreme right wing of the Republican Party has done him great damage with women, Hispanics, and independents, all of whom will be critical in the general election. That’s because the policies he advocates would do massive damage to American families who are striving to get ahead. Just in the past week, Mitt Romney called Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker a ‘hero’ –- a man who has turned his back so thoroughly on middle-class families, seniors and workers that voters are seeking to recall him from office. And Romney has accepted the endorsement of and praised Rep. Paul Ryan, whose budget proposal -– endorsed by Romney -- would end Medicare as we know it so that millionaires and billionaires could get a tax break. Ryan's budget, embraced by Romney, would make arbitrary cuts to programs essential to middle-class families like education and clean energy.

-- Sam Stein

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@ PeterHambyCNN : chatter around town the last few days: Top three Romney VP prospects at the moment are Ryan, Portman, Rubio.

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@ jamiedupree : GINGRICH STATEMENT TONIGHT: "We cannot win on an etch-a-sketch platform that shows no principle or backbone"

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@ mviser : Times Romney mentioned Obama? 16. Times he mentioned Santorum? Zero.

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@ samsteinhp : Dems dying to keep this thing going. DWS: “Mitt Romney has significantly more work to do before he can become the Republican nominee"

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Mitt Romney spoke with supporters Tuesday night after clinching wins in the Maryland, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. primaries.

As he has in his last few post-primary speeches, Romney targeted Obama from the get-go.

"Under this President's watch, more Americans have lost their jobs than during any other period since the Depression. Millions have lost their homes, and a record number of Americans are living in poverty," Romney said. "When you drive home tonight and stop at a gas station, just take a look at the prices and ask yourself, 'Four more years of that?'"

After the crowd booed, Romney said, "I agree."

Romney credited the difficulty of the last few years to "mistakes and failures" of Obama's leadership, emphasizing the downfalls of "Barack Obama's government-centered society."

Romney touched on a subject that's been sensitive to Wisconsin voters in over the last year when he noted that "workers should have the choice to join unions." Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker received heat in 2011 when he proposed a budget plan stripping public workers of their collective bargaining rights.

Recent Romney supporter Paul Ryan also called out Obama during the rally, saying the president "was supposed to be bigger than this."

Romney thanked Ryan for his support, joking that "he's a great leader, a great speaker, but he's not going to take Ann's place."

-- Paige Lavender

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@ jamiedupree : Romney: "Out-of-touch liberals like Barack Obama say they want a strong economy, but they really don’t like businesses very much"

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Mitt Romney's party at the Grain Exchange in downtown Milwaukee has taken on a bit of Wisconsin culture as people are wearing cheesehead hats. This occurs as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Romney's partner in serving turkey and ham sandwiches this morning in Waukesha, warms up the crowd for the former Massachusetts governor.

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@ jeffzeleny : As he accepts victory, Romney unveils his bumper-sticker message for the fall campaign: "Barack Obama's government-centered society."

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@ reidepstein : Not even a perfunctory "thanks to my opponents" line from Romney tonight in Milwaukee.

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@ samsteinhp : couple mentions now from Romney of obama being a community organizer

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@ rosiepgray : Mitt praises Ryan but says "he's not going to take Ann's place, I'll tell you that"

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@ kasie : Rep. Paul Ryan on President Obama: "He was supposed to be bigger than this."

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The Gingrich campaign emailed a message to supporters on Tuesday evening:

You’ve probably heard a lot of talk lately about the Republican Convention in Tampa in August. Discussions about delegates to the Convention, in particular, have been especially convoluted because of the media and political establishment’s attempts to prematurely end this primary process.

...

Here’s the bottom line: To win the Republican nomination a candidate needs to secure votes from 1,144 delegates, or half of the 2,286 total delegates available. We’re about halfway to that point, so this race is far from over.

...

If no candidate garners 1,144 delegates, anything can happen at the Convention, so Newt’s campaign is laying the ground work ahead of time.

...

I’m proud to be a delegate for Newt, and I hope he can count on your support all the way to the Republican Convention in August.

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@ chucktodd : Santorum may not even win 10 delegates tonight, out of 93 at stake.

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@ EmilyABC : Rep Paul Ryan quite literally just leaped onto stage here in Milwaukee

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Patch in Wisconsin\ is reporting that Rick Santorum's campaign headquarters in Brookfield, Wis., is largely quiet, with the volunteers there optimistic with the early returns coming in. Mitt Romney's party at the Grain Exchange in downtown Milwaukee remains pretty loud with cheering supporters mingling while waiting for the Romney family to appear.

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A majority of Wisconsin voters who approve of Gov. Scott Walker's performance voted for frontrunner Mitt Romney on Tuesday night, while the anti-Walker crowd broke in favor of Rick Santorum, according to exit polling data from CBS News.

Fifty-two percent of voters who back Walker voted for Romney, while 34 percent went for Santorum. (Among Walker haters, just 14 percent came out for Romney, while 36 percent voted for the former senator from Pennsylvania.) The breakdown indicates that Romney was apparently able to sell Wisconsin's GOP voters on his image as a budget-minded, anti-labor businessman and fiscal conservative.

Walker is currently facing a recall due to his war with public-sector unions, having controversially rolled back collective bargaining rights in the state. His crusade against unions has made him a darling of the right, and Romney's campaign has voiced its support for the embattled governor.

Like Walker, Romney has talked tough on unions, even making a campaign issue out of a pair of old votes Santorum cast that could be considered pro-labor. But the frontrunner's anti-labor message could hurt him in a general election, where moderates and independents are less likely to appreciate an attack on collective bargaining.

-- Dave Jamieson

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@ hollybdc : Spotted in Milwaukee: Romney cheeseheads http://t.co/svU3oMEh

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As the unemployment rate has fallen for several consecutive months, exit pollsters in recent presidential primary contests have had a new question for voters: Is the nation's economy starting to recover, staying the same, or getting worse?

Twenty-two percent of Maryland primary voters said Tuesday that the national economy is starting to get better, while 48 percent said it's getting worse. The Maryland unemployment rate in February (the most recent month for which state-by-state data are available) was just 6.5 percent, well below the national average of 8.3 percent. The state's jobless rate has fallen from 7.2 percent in February 2011.

A similar pattern held in other states. Thirty percent of Wisconsin primary voters said the economy is getting better, compared with 40 percent who say it's getting worse. In the past year Wisconsin's unemployment rate has declined 0.7 percentage points, to 6.9 percent. Forty-five percent of Illinois voters said the economy's getting worse; 22 percent said it's better.

In Louisana, which held its primary contests two weeks ago, a whopping 61 percent of voters said the economy's worsening, versus 12 percent who said it's improving. The state's jobless rate is 7 percent.

-- Arthur Delaney

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@ EmilyABC : Mitt on FB: Ann and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Texans who are putting their lives back together after today's devastating storms

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@ michaelpfalcone : Newt's making a play for Delaware: He & Callista have a total of 7 events in "The First State" Weds & Thurs

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HuffPost's Amanda Terkel reports:

Wisconsin's voter identification law reportedly caused some confusion at a polling place Tuesday, when workers asked voters to show identification even though the requirement is suspended.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed the voter ID bill into law last year, calling it a "common sense reform." While the law was in effect for February's election, two judges have since suspended the law, saying it is unconstitutional.

Click here to read more.

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@ AshleyRParker : "Hat trick!" exalts @Rick_Gorka, Romney's traveling flak, when Wisconsin is finally called for The Gov.

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@ DavidMDrucker : Will miss Ann's long TY list RT @HotlineJosh: RT @peterhambycnn Mitt Romney's new bestie Paul Ryan will introduce him in Wisconsin shortly.

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@ PeterHambyCNN : Mitt Romney's new bestie Paul Ryan will introduce him in Wisconsin shortly.

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@ GOP12 : Palin's top choice for VP? Allen West

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Wisconsin is an open primary, meaning Democrats could vote Tuesday for a Republican presidential candidate. And they did; 11 percent of voters identified as Democrats, according to an exit poll.

Their candidate of choice? Rick Santorum, who won 37 percent of those voters. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul received less than 20 percent each of those voters.

It's tough to speculate on why those Democrats chose Santorum, but it's not exactly the norm for a candidate who typically wins among the self-identified "very conservative" in polls. (In Wisconsin, he won 41 percent of those who said they were "very conservative," while Romney won 44 percent of them.)

Santorum reached out to Democrats in Michigan's primary, which was also an open process, and won more than half of the self-identified Democratic voters there. His campaign robo-called Democrats in the state asking them to vote for the former senator from Pennsylvania, which Romney decried as "a terrible dirty trick."

The idea of opposite-party voters hopping into open primaries to alter the result isn't unheard of. In 2008, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh urged his listeners to vote for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama to keep her in the race. His plan, called "Operation Chaos," was to extend the primary process so Clinton could "bloody up" Obama ahead of the general election.

-- Elise Foley

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@ AshleyRParker : Romney expected to address his Milwaukee victory party in 5 minutes.

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@ chucktodd : The Reagan 76 analogy has one giant flaw: Reagan LOST that nomination.

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Rick Santorum spoke with supporters in Pennsylvania Tuesday night after losing the Maryland and Washington, D.C. primaries to rival Mitt Romney.

"It is great to be home," Santorum said.

"We have now reached the point where it's halftime," Santorum said before asking the crowd "who's ready to charge out of the locker room in Pennsylvania for a strong second half."

Santorum seemed happy to be back in his home state, putting a strong emphasis on Pennsylvania and its voters.

"It's here America started," Santorum said. "Not only did we forge steel in this state. We forged liberty in this state."

"Pennsylvania and half the other people in this country have yet to be heard," Santorum said. "Some of the best ideas and some of the best plans, in fact what has made this country great, is that we have listened to real significant voices of every day Americans."

"We know who we are here in Pennsylvania," Santorum said. "We know the stock that we are made of. We've contributed a lot."

The crowd booed when the former Pennsylvania senator briefly addressed Obama and "crushing regulation" during his speech.

"We need someone in this race who can go out and make the clairon call for liberty," Santorum said.

Santorum recognized the tough presidential fight ahead, noting that only once has the Republican party defeated a Democratic incumbent for president. He took a hit at Romney by saying the former Massachusetts governor isn't different enough from Obama to put up a good fight.

"If we're going to win this race, we can’t have little differences between our nominee and President Obama," Santorum said. "We have to have clear, contrasting colors."

Santorum even threw an Etch A Sketch insult at his main GOP rival, noting that his policies are "forged in steel, not on an Etch A Sketch."

-- Paige Lavender

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Mitt Romney was projected the winner of Tuesday night's Wisconsin primary by Fox News.

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@ MittRomney : Big thanks to everyone in MD and DC – what a way to start the night. Excited for WI results to start coming in.

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Rick Santorum lost his fellow Catholics to Mitt Romney by a 46 percent to 33 percent margin in Wisconsin, according to CNN exit polls, furthering a pattern that has held in earlier primaries.

However, among Catholics who attend services weekly, Santorum and Romney split the vote. Santorum garnered 42 percent and Romney had 40 percent. Among those who did not attend weekly, Romney won 54 percent and Santorum won 19 percent. The New York Times reported that many voters did not even know about Santorum's religion:

A Pew survey this month found that only 42 percent of Catholic Republicans knew that Mr. Santorum was Catholic. At the same time, 11 percent of Catholic Republicans and 35 percent of white evangelical Republicans said they thought he was an evangelical.

--Luke Johnson

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In an interview with Fox Business on Tuesday evening, Rick Santorum backer Foster Friess said he would not cut off financial support for the candidate.

"Absolutely not," he said. "I have a lot of faith, not so much Rick Santorum, I have faith in him, but I have faith in our country and that’s what we are all about. This is not going to be Republican Democrat turnaround, this has to be an American turnaround with everyone pitching together…And he’s not out yet. this will be an important win for Romney, for Mitt if it occurs, but there’s Pennsylvania ahead and that shows Rick is six percentage points ahead there in a major poll.”

Friess also denied to analyze the state of the race.

"Remember the famous Bible verse, don't rush to meet that what you would most avoid so we will wait until we get to Pennsylvania."

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Patch in Wisconsin reports that an Illinois fan of Mitt Romney made the journey from Gurnee, Ill., to the Romney party at the Grain Exchange in downtown Milwaukee to celebrate with the former Massachusetts governor. Rami Rakheram missed the Illinois primary night party for Romney and wanted to see him speak in person tonight. Rakheram said he read the Book of Mormon to learn more about the candidate's religion. He said his respect for Romney has grown since he read the book.

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@ ZekeJMiller : Boos for Barack Obama and "crushing regulation" at Santo event

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@ jonward11 : Santo sounds dog tired

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@ BuzzFeedAndrew : Santorum going all Gingrich on this speech, making tons of historical references.

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@ samsteinhp : 33 percent of Wisconinites unsatisfied if Romney's the nominee, 40 percent unsatisfied if its Santorum

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@ jmsummers : Santorum on PA: "..It's where America started. Not only did we forge steel in this state. We forged liberty in this state."

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@ rickklein : Santorum declares it "halftime." He labels Pennsylvania the "second half." Not sure it works that way...

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@ Chris_Moody : Rick Santorum made out of balloons. Seriously, check this out. http://t.co/4L59E6su

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@ jmsummers : .@RickSantorum taking the stage now in Mars, Pa.

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Unmarried voters, who made up 30 percent of the Wisconsin primary electorate, broke for Rick Santorum over Mitt Romney, despite -- or perhaps because of -- his evangelical support of marriage, 37 percent to 32 percent. People who are actually married, meanwhile, chose Romney over Santorum 46 percent to 36 percent.

-- Ryan Grim

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