U.S. media projections say Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum won Louisiana's primary Saturday.
The media called the southern state in former Senator Santorum's favor shortly after polls closed and after partial results showed he had 40 percent of the vote - well ahead of national front-runner Mitt Romney with 30 percent.
Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich is in the third place with 20 percent of the vote. Texas Congressman Ron Paul trails behind with 5 percent.
Forty-six delegates to the party's national convention in August are at stake in Louisiana, with 20 of them decided Saturday and the rest at a state convention in June.
Santorum has done well in the conservative south, but Romney still has a commanding lead in the race for the party nomination.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has more than 550 delegates of the 1,144 needed to clinch the Republican presidential nomination.
In recent days, Romney secured the support of more high-profile Republicans. Many of them want the primary race to end without more intra-party political attacks that may weaken Republican chances of defeating President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in November.
Santorum's campaign has vowed to fight for more delegates up until the Republican party's convention if Romney is not able to win the necessary majority of delegates to clinch the nomination. The party's nominee will be decided at the convention if no candidate gets enough delegates by then.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.