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Mitt Romney wins decisive victory in Massachusetts

BELMONT - Politics may be known as blood sport in Massachusetts, but Super Tuesday here turned into a rather placid affair, with former governor Mitt Romney effortlessly winning his party’s endorsement.

Romney’s victory in Tuesday’s primary was treated by nearly everyone as a foregone conclusion. Those who showed up at the polls validated that prediction, handing Romney a decisive victory, capturing 72 percent of the vote, with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

The only suspense came in whether Romney would get all 41 delegates, or forfeit a handful to one of his rivals, who needed 15 percent of the vote to avoid a sweep.

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“Intensity is not a word I think I’d use,’’ said Secretary of State William F. Galvin, the state’s top election official.

Unlike swing states like Ohio and Tennessee, there were no television ads and few get-out-the vote efforts here. Even at Romney’s home polling place, in Belmont, the only sign-holders came in support of his rival Ron Paul.

Frank Capone, a 27-year-old contractor from Medford, said he and his fellow Paul supporters were there specifically to see Romney, whose arrival at the Beech Street senior center was televised live.

“The coronated one is coming,’’ Capone said. “We must come and welcome him.’’

A rare jolt of excitement occurred at the Westin Copley ballroom in Boston, where the crowd at Romney’s election night party burst into chants of “Go, Mitt, Go,’’ when CNN projected he would win the state. The live band then struck up a Fenway Park favorite, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.’’

By evening, Galvin was projecting total turnout of about 500,000 voters - less than 15 percent of the state’s 4.1 million registered voters. That included about 350,000 in the Republican primary. In Boston, one of the most heavily Democratic cities in the country, turnout was below 8 percent. President Obama is unopposed, so the state’s Democrats were using the primary to gear up their organizing efforts ahead of the general election.

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Though Romney served a single term as governor in Massachusetts, those who voted in the Republican primary here seemed as divided as the rest of the country over whether he is a moderate or conservative.

“He’s pretending to run on the right for the primaries,’’ said Edward McCarthy, of Hamilton, a 53-year-old utility worker. “But in the real world he’s a moderate, and that’s a good thing. Moderation and cooperation are the way to get things done.’’

Nancy Pizzi, a Belmont homemaker, disagreed. “People from other states don’t understand what this state is like,’’ she said. “Considering it’s such a liberal state, it’s amazing he did what he did.’’ Romney voters in several communities said they were primarily concerned about jobs and nation’s fiscal health.

“I absolutely like President Obama. He’s so likable and brilliant, but I thought he’d do a better job with the economy, and he just doesn’t get it,’’ said Jane Smolik, a 61-year-old resident of the North Shore community of Wenham, who voted for Obama in 2008 but cast a primary ballot for Romney this time.

Republicans are hoping voters like Smolik can help Romney compete in the November general election in Massachusetts, despite its reputation as a Democratic stronghold. Bob Maginn, GOP chairman, said Tuesday that “people are going to be surprised how well he’s going to do in the general election here.’’

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Still, a Republican presidential candidate has not won Massachusetts since Ronald Reagan in 1984, and polls have consistently shown Obama with a wide lead over Romney in a head-to-head matchup. A Suffolk University poll conducted last month showed Obama leading over Romney in Massachusetts 53 percent to 39 percent. In that same poll, Romney was viewed unfavorably by 47 percent of those surveyed, compared with 41 percent who viewed him favorably.

“If he were to win Massachusetts, then he would landslide Barack Obama nationally,’’ said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center “And I don’t see that happening.’’


Matt Viser and Brian Ballou of the Globe staff contributed. Noah Bierman can be reached at nbierman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahbierman.