U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum Saturday was projected by major TV networks to win the Louisiana primary.
The win would give the Pennsylvania senator much needed breathing space after a bad week.
After the polls closed in the southern state, major TV networks including CNN, FOX and NBC all projected Santorum will win the state, based on exit poll numbers.
Partial tally results showed Santorum won about 45 percent of the vote in the conservative state, while Romney was below 30 percent. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich trails in the third place, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul is at the last.
Louisiana has a closed primary, meaning only registered Republicans can vote, and Santorum, a social conservative, was heavily favored to win. His win came after frontrunner Mitt Romney's 12-point victory in Illinois Tuesday, giving him breathing space as Romney solidifies lead in delegate count.
On top of Romney pulling away in delegate count, Santorum has seen the former Massachusetts governor solidify his support among establishment.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, perhaps the most sought-after endorsement in the Republican party, went to Romney. Romney also met with South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, a conservative favorite, and walked away with all but a public endorsement.
But the real bad news to Santorum maybe that despite his win in Louisiana, it just doesn't matter any more. The state's GOP allocates its delegates proportionally, and Santorum won't be able to narrow significantly the lead that Romney has.
According to CNN's delegate count, Romney has 563 delegates, while Santorum trails with 259.
A Gallup poll Friday also indicated Romney expanded his lead in public opinion over Santorum to the widest margin in weeks, leading with 40 percent of registered Republicans nationwide, while Santorum comes in with 26 percent.