Updated: 11:09 p.m.
Mitt Romney won the Michigan and Arizona primaries tonight, giving a much-needed boost to his struggling campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.
The former Massachusetts governor overcame a strong second-place showing by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to win Michigan, the state where he was born.
With 69 percent of precincts reporting in Michigan, Romney had 42 percent and Santorum 37 percent. Farther back in the pack, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) had 12 percent and former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) had 7 percent.
Romney did much better in Arizona. With 42 percent of precincts reporting, he had 49 percent, Santorum 25 percent, Gingrich 16 percent and Paul 9 percent.
The next stop is Saturday, when Washington state will hold a caucus, then March 6 for Super Tuesday, when 10 states, including Massachusetts, Georgia and Ohio, will hold primaries.
In a speech in Columbus, Ohio, Romney thanked volunteers in Michigan.
“We didn’t win by a lot, but we won by enough and that’s all that counts,” he said.
Bill Ballenger, an independent analyst with Inside Michigan Publishers, said “Mitt Romney dodged the bullet” with his Michigan victory.
“A win is a win, no matter the size of the margin. Think how things would have looked for him if he’d lost his native state,” Ballenger added. “Combined with his Arizona triumph, he now goes into Super Tuesday with his hopes alive to take a giant leap toward securing the majority of delegates he needs to become the Republican presidential nominee.”
Jason Roe, a GOP consultant who has worked extensively in Michigan, said: “This is an important win for Romney. It’s the kind of state that he has to be able to win in November and one that Santorum matches up with culturally and politically. Romney would’ve been derailed with a loss here.”
Shira Toeplitz contributed to this report.