(CBS News) The polls have now closed in Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, four of the five states across the northeast holding presidential primaries today. Polls will close in New York at 9pm ET.
Mitt Romney is widely expected to take at least four of the five states up for grabs today, potentially adding more than 200 delegates to the 692 estimated delegates that he has already secured.
No matter what happens, Romney will still lack the 1,144 delegates necessary to formally clinch the Republican nomination after Tuesday -- but the former Massachusetts governor is already claiming the mantle of presumptive Republican nominee. Even as he continues to put in the requisite work toward officially sealing up the Republican nomination, Romney isin a speech later tonight in New Hampshire. CBS News estimated delegate count
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"After 43 primaries and caucuses, many long days and not a few long nights, I can say with confidence - and gratitude - that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility," Romney plans to say Tuesday night, according to prepared remarks released by the campaign. "And, together, we will win on November 6th!"
A senior Romney adviser in New Hampshire, Jim Merrill,: "We're getting ready to enter phase two."
Indeed, it's extremely implausible - though not technically impossible - for any other candidate to catch up to Romney at this point.
Newt Gingrich, who has only won two nominating contests, said Tuesday that he found it "a little insulting" that Romney was kicking off his general election campaign before formally closing the deal. Still, he acknowledged that barring a strong performance in Delaware Tuesday - the state where the former House speaker has the best chance of doing well - he mayPrimary Results: to stay in the race.Delaware | New York | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island
"I think we need to take a deep look at what we are doing," Gingrich said Monday. "We will be in North Carolina tomorrow night and we will look and see what the results are."
Gingrich had vowed to stay in the race until the Republican presidential convention in Tampa this summer, but his presidential campaign is more than $4 million in debt and the pace of its fundraising has fallen significantly behind its spending, according to figures released by the campaign Friday evening.
The Gingrich camp says it could get a "bounce" out of Delaware that would prompt donors to take another look at the candidate despite the perception that Romney has the nomination locked up.
"If we do win Delaware, it will break up the media narrative" that Romney has the nomination in hand, Gingrich said last week in Wilmington. But Delaware only offers 17 delegates in its winner-take-all primary; a Gingrich win there would still leave him with less than 150 delegates total in the CBS News estimates, a fraction of Romney's total.