Following up on a story we’ve been reporting on all week, several communities in Maine hosted Republican presidential caucuses yesterday, unsure how their preferences would be tallied by the state party. Given Mitt Romney’s narrow-but-dubious lead over Ron Paul, yesterday’s results had the potential to push the former governor into second place.
By last night, it looked as if the Texas congressman had a very good day, but not yet enough to put him on top.
In Washington County’s supercaucus, Paul attracted 163 votes to Mitt Romney’s 80, and in the town of Hancock, in the county of the same name, Paul received 41 votes to Romney’s 16. Paul also picked up four more votes to Romney’s two in Clinton, which also caucused Saturday morning, and 19 votes to Romney’s seven in Eastbrook.
The numbers weren’t enough to overcome Paul’s 239-vote deficit statewide, but the poll is nonbinding, meaning the state’s 24 GOP delegates won’t necessarily be apportioned based on the results. However, the decisive wins might cool the momentum Romney claimed after he was declared the winner in Maine a week ago.
According to the Bangor Daily News’ unofficial tally, Romney’s margin has shrunk to 117 votes statewide.
Turnout was, as expected, quite strong yesterday, with Maine State Senate President Kevin Raye (R), a Romney supporter, calling the large Washington County crowd “magnificent.” Locals seemed confident that their votes would, in the end, be included in the overall count.
There are still all kinds of lingering questions – who’ll end up with the victory in Maine, why the state party prematurely named Romney the winner, how many vote tallies ended up in the state chairman’s email trash folder, etc. – and clarity may not come until Maine’s Republican State Committee meets on March 10.