The polls are now closed in Maryland and Fox News can project that Mitt Romney will win the state by a commanding margin, further solidifying his national lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Rick Santorum will finish a distant second, while Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are currently battling for third place, based on Fox News exit polls.


Voting has also just ended in the District of Columbia, but there are no exit polls in the nation’s capital, so it is too early to say whether Romney will be the winner. Santorum failed to qualify for the ballot in Washington.


We have exit polls in Wisconsin, but voters still have an hour to cast their ballots, so Fox will not project a winner until at least 9 p.m. Eastern Time. Both Romney and Santorum have competed strongly in Wisconsin.


With the Maryland victory, Romney is off to a strong start for the evening — amid growing signs that Republicans are finally starting to coalesce around the front runner.