Gerald Herbert, Associated Press
BOSTON — Mitt Romney cruised to an easy primary win in Massachusetts on Tuesday, besting his fellow Republican presidential hopefuls in a state that he governed for four years and that the other GOP candidates all but conceded.
Romney handily beat Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, who put little money or effort into trying to deny him a victory.
Romney returned to the state for the first time in months to cast his ballot at a senior center in Belmont, where he and his wife, Ann Romney, own a condominium and raised their family.
"It's great to be back home," Mitt Romney told reporters after voting.
Romney said it had been "a couple of months" since he'd been in Massachusetts and he was looking forward to sleeping in his own bed.
He planned to address supporters Tuesday night at the Westin Copley Place hotel in Boston as Super Tuesday results poured in from around the country.
Romney was ready to tell supporters that "tonight, we've taken one more step toward restoring the promise of America."
In remarks provided by his campaign, Romney also planned to say that "tomorrow, we wake up and we start again. And the next day we do the same" and that he will take his campaign "day by day, step by step, door to door, heart to heart."
With President Barack Obama facing no competition on the Democratic ballot, voting appeared to be light across the state. Turnout was expected to be higher in communities with more Republican voters.
State election officials had no reports of voting irregularities at the polls.
Romney's win was expected. Polls had given him a commanding lead among GOP primary voters.
But those polls show Romney trailing Obama by double digits in a state that has traditionally shunned Republican presidential candidates.
Massachusetts Democrats tried to use Tuesday's contest to build support for the general election and to take a few whacks at Romney.
Obama campaign officials said volunteers have been conducting training sessions, holding phone banks, canvassing neighborhoods and hosting house parties to reach out to voters as they work to build their campaign infrastructure for November.
Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh said, "Romney may be able to spend his way through the Republican primary, but he can't write a check big enough to cover the fact that he will say anything to get elected."
But Republicans are holding out hope that Romney's strong primary win could open the door to a possible GOP victory in November in Massachusetts.
Those odds are long.
The last Republican to win Massachusetts in the November presidential election was Ronald Reagan, Obama remains popular and Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick is actively campaigning on Obama's behalf.
One recent poll found Romney trailing Obama in a head-to-head matchup, with Obama receiving the support of 60 percent of voters, compared with 36 percent for Romney.
Romney's primary win should deliver to him the bulk of the state's 41 GOP delegates. The state is not winner-take-all, but a candidate needs at least 15 percent of the vote for a chance to pick up any delegates.
Massachusetts Republican voters said they were happy to cast their ballots for Romney, who has pointed to his fiscal management of the state as one of his key campaign selling points.
Dylan Bausemer, of Whitman, voted for Romney in part because he has promised to cut taxes.
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