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Romney cruises to big win in Maryland

 

Mitt Romney cruised to a blowout victory in Maryland, giving him one more notch in his belt as he moves closer to the Republican nomination.

NBC News has declared Romney the winner “by a significant margin” in Maryland. All votes are not yet counted. Polls closed at 8 p.m. ET.

The state lined up favorably for Romney, according to the exit polls. Romney has won in states with fewer evangelicals, where people are highly educated and wealthier than average. Those familiar demographic patterns held once again.

Less than one-in-four (37 percent) said they were born again or evangelical Christians, almost six-in-10 (57 percent) had a college degree, and nearly half (48 percent) said they made more than $100,000 a year.

Romney cleaned up with seniors, those who declared themselves “somewhat conservative,” those who said they are “moderate,” and among those who said the economy, beating President Obama, and having the right experience to be president were their top priorities.

Romney also struggled with groups he’s traditionally struggled with. Even though he won those 65 and older in a landslide, he lost those in the 40-49 age group by 15 points to Rick Santorum. He also lost those who wanted a “true conservative” (61-12 percent), someone with “strong moral character” (52-26 percent), and for whom abortion was their top issue (63-16).

The margin was also narrow among those who considered themselves “very conservative” (40-40) and born-again Christians (41-38).

But, fortunately for Romney, the state’s Republicans were less staunchly conservative than in states he lost. More than a third (34 percent) said Santorum was “too conservative.”

Republicans in the state were also pessimistic about the state of the economy with just about a quarter (22 percent) who said the economy is starting to recover, but half (48 percent) said it will get worse.

Romney may very well come out of Maryland with all of the state’s 37 delegates, as some are given to the statewide winner and the rest awarded winner-take-all by congressional district. If Romney wins each district, which is likely, he will win all of the delegates.

The majority of voters (51 percent) came from either the Baltimore or DC suburbs -- 33 percent from Baltimore suburbs, 18 percent from DC suburbs.