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USA - Mar 7, 2012 - 00:34

Last modified: 7 Mar 2012 00:34

Early results of an exit poll of voters in Ohio's Republican presidential primary show Rick Santorum winning strong support from the most conservative voters, especially those focused on social issues like abortion.

But Santorum is only running about even with chief foe Mitt Romney among Ohioans who lack college degrees. Santorum has been targeting those blue-collar voters.

Romney is doing best among more moderate Ohio voters, people concerned about the economy and those seeking a candidate who can defeat President Barack Obama this fall.

Ohio is seen as important to Santorum's chances of slowing Romney's march toward the GOP nomination.

Santorum had a nearly 2-1 lead among the state's voters who say a candidate's religious beliefs were a big factor in their vote.