Rick Santorum speaks during an election night rally at the Steubenville… (Joe Raedle / Getty Images )
Rick Santorum has won the North Dakota caucuses, according to a projection from the Associated Press, the latest in a string of victories for the former Pennsylvania senator in America’s heartland.
The victory is Santorum’s third of the night, coming after projected victories in Tennessee and Oklahoma. He’s locked in a close race in Ohio with Mitt Romney.
Before Super Tuesday, Santorum had won voting contests in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado.
According to the Republican National Committee, no delegates will be apportioned based on tonight’s vote in North Dakota. The 28 delegates will be chosen at the state Republican convention at month’s end, and even then, the delegates officially go to the party convention in Tampa, Fla., free to select any candidate.
But NBC News reported this week that the state delegates, when chosen, will apportion their votes to reflect tonight's tally.
Ron Paul, who has based his strategy on accumulating delegates from the caucus states, had been counting on a strong showing in North Dakota. He visited the state twice this year, once more than either Romney or Santorum.
In the 2008 caucuses, Romney defeated his GOP rivals by double digits, garnering eight of 23 convention delegates.
In the general election, North Dakota has been a Republican stronghold. The state has not been carried by a Democratic presidential nominee sinceLyndon B. Johnsonwon there in 1964.