Newt Gingrich won Georgia's Republican primary on Super Tuesday, beating out Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in the state where the former House of Representatives speaker launched his political career.

Based on exit polling, the Associated Press called the Georgia race for Gingrich soon after voting ended at 7 p.m. EST. The exit polls said Gingrich scored three-fourths of Republican voters in a contest open to all voters statewide. Although Gingrich was born in Pennsylvania and has made Virginia his home since his days in Congress, his history with Georgia was a factor for voters.

Gingrich was an associate professor of history at University of West Georgia before winning a seat in the House in 1978. He represented a Georgia district until he resigned from Congress in 1999 after stepping down as House speaker amid ethics violations.

For Gingrich's flailing campaign, Georgia was a must-win state. It's the anchor of his strategy of defeating rivals in the Deep South after a string of primary defeats elsewhere.

With 76 delegates, Georgia had the most at stake among Tuesday's primaries and caucuses. But Gingrich won't win them all: Georgia awards its delegates proportionally based on the statewide vote and in each congressional district.