Polls have begun closing in Super Tuesday voting as Republicans select the party's presidential nominee. According to exit polls, Newt Gingrich has won in his home state of Georgia and Mitt Romney has taken Virginia.
US media were predicting frontrunner Mitt Romney had won the Virginia presidential primary, easily beating his only other challenger in the state, congressman Ron Paul.
In all, 10 states were selecting their Republican nominations for the US presidential election on Tuesday, with the primary in Ohio perhaps the most closely-watched battleground.
Romney, who had overturned quite a deficit in the polls ahead of Tuesday's voting, could effectively wrap up the candidacy if he fares well - while "Super Tuesday" offers dark horses Rick Santorum and Gingrich a chance to close the widening gap on Romney.
One in five US states will either pick their candidates on Super Tuesday or at least start the process, either by primary ballot or by open negotiations in so-called caucuses.
The 10 contested states are Ohio, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont and Alaska. This flurry of voting means 410 of the delegates to the Republican Party's 2012 convention are up for grabs, just under 18 percent of the total. A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to secure the nomination.
Former Massachusetts governor Romney currently has 203 delegates to his name, former Pennsylvania senator Santorum has 92, while former House Speaker Gingrich has 33. Ron Paul trails with 25.
Romney carried momentum into Super Tuesday, having secured five consecutive wins in Maine, Michigan, Arizona, Wyoming and Washington state.
dfm/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)