Add to Technorati Favorites Presidential Politics for America: What's Up with Maine?

Friday, February 10, 2012

What's Up with Maine?

(That's right, folks: a Maine Caucus Preview! Only on PPFA! My goal is to make you interested in it. Here goes...)

Lost in the week of the Santorum Sweep is that one other state went to the polls on Tuesday. As it did for the two days before. As it did for the three days since. As, too, it will tomorrow. I'm talking, of course, about the unique Maine Caucus.

Simply stated, unlike Iowa, Nevada, and all other caucuses, Maine does not hold their caucus on one day. Instead, Maine leaves it up to individual municipalities to pick their own caucus dates during the primary season. This year, the state party tried to coral its months-long caucuses into this week, but there are still as many as 15 municipalities that will have not yet voted when Maine reveals its results, however premature, tomorrow evening.

Fresh off his disappointing mini-Tuesday showing, Mitt Romney traveled to Maine to shore up some New England support. He won the state four years ago (by 30 points, no less), just as he did Minnesota and Colorado. Yet, four years after those victories, he might lose Maine, just as he lost Minnesota and Colorado on Tuesday. The Maine Caucus might only allocate 21 delegates (24 including un-pledged party leaders), but let's be honest--Romney wants to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible, and this contest will be his last potential tourniquet until February 28th's Arizona and Michigan primaries. That explains why he's resorted to buying Maine television and radio time, an unnecessary move before his Tuesday disappointment. And we know how well Romney does when outspending his competitors on the airwaves.

The best part about the Maine Caucus might be Ron Paul's chances. The 2012 Republican Primary has had many twists and turns. While a Paul win in the tiny Maine Caucus would be neither twist nor turn, it would be fitting if we have a fourth candidate win a state. A Ron Paul victory in Maine might only earn him a plurality of the 21 delegates, but it will be nice morale boost for his die-hard supporters. More importantly, it would be yet another contest where Mitt Romney loses a chance to make up ground on 50 percent of the total delegates. At the very least, Paul is looking at a top-two finish in Maine, as neither Newt Gingrich nor Rick Santorum has mounted a campaign there.

Polls are of no help here, as the most recent are from October. But maybe that makes it all the more interesting for this crazy caucus. Look for both Romney and Paul to clear 30 points, with the winner breaking 40, and maybe even 50. (Santorum's momentum will carry him into third; Gingrich, second in the October poll, falls to fourth.) If Romney's the winner, he slows his slide and maybe even stops it. If Paul wins, the story will be that Romney has lost his fourth state in a row--sixth overall of nine. Indeed, he will have lost twice as many states as he won. Put that way, he doesn't sound like the prohibitive favorite anymore, does he?

So count me excited for tomorrow night's Maine Caucus results. I hope that now you are, too.


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