Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was declared the winner of the Maine caucuses on Saturday. The former Massachusetts governor won the contest with 39 percent of the votes. Texas Congressman Ron Paul came in second place with 36 percent of the ballots. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum garnered the support of 18 percent of voters, while former House speaker Newt Gingrich was the favorite of only six percent of caucus goers.
Despite being “disappointed”, Dr. Paul told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he had done “very well”. However, he suggested that his second place finish was probably due to the cancellation of one of the caucuses in the Pine Tree State.
Following forecasts by the National Weather Service that up to 5.5 inches of snow were due to fall in the East Machias area, Chris Gardner, the Republican chairman of Washington County, took the decision to postpone the local caucus until next Saturday. However, state party rules require all results to be reported on the last day of the week-long contest. Voting started on Saturday, Feb. 4 and ended on Saturday, Feb. 11.
Mr. Gardner, who is a Romney supporter, asked the state GOP to accept and count the results of next Saturday’s contest. “The people of Washington County, they certainly deserve to have their votes counted. We are going to proceed and we will push to have our votes counted,” the county’s GOP chairman said.
The Paul campaign is convinced that next Saturday’s vote could change the outcome of the Maine caucuses in Dr. Paul‘s favor. “In Washington County, where Ron Paul was incredibly strong, the caucus was delayed until next week just so the votes wouldn’t be reported by the national media today,” stated John Tate, Paul’s campaign manager, following last week’s results. “The votes of Washington County would have been enough to put us over the top,” he added. Official results for the entire state showed that Dr. Paul trailed Mr. Romney by a mere 194 votes.
It is difficult to gage whether Mr. Tate’s claims are plausible. Back in 2008, only 113 voters participated in the Washington County GOP caucus and Dr. Paul garnered the support of only eight of these voters. However, as Nate Silver explains in this New York Times article, Washington County is “rural and relatively poor – demographics that tend to suit him more than Mr. Romney”. The author also believes that, if Dr. Paul’s team run an efficient campaign, the turnout this weekend could be much higher than anticipated and could enable the Texas congressman to take the first place.
The state GOP is expected to rule on Mr. Gardner’s request on March 10.