February 12, 2012
The mass media have repeated the official results for the Maine GOP presidential caucuses that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney narrowly beat Texas Congressman Ron Paul by a 39 percent to 36 percent margin. But the official results are incomplete. And postponement of the results from one of Ron Paul's strongest counties, Washington County, because of a forecasted snowstorm may alone have tipped the balance in Romney's favor.
Ron Paul's campaign confidently predicted victory when the final votes are tallied. "Only 194 votes [statewide] stand between Paul and a first place victory," RonPaul 2012 blogger Jack Hunter pointed out in a post after the media declared Romney the winner. "Washington County is a stronghold for Paul and has yet to report. It might be a week before we know the final outcome there and Washington County is expected to yield 200 votes or more." Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorumplaced third with 18 percent of the vote in the official Maine caucus statewide vote tally, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich placed fourth with six percent of the vote.
Hunter's prediction is not just braggadocio. In south Washington County, Maine, Paul beat Romney by 132 votes in a February 7 Cottage Grove precinct-level caucus preceding the county "super-caucus" that was supposed to be held February 11 but will now be held February 18. Maine's South Washington County Bulletin reported February 8: "In District 57 ... Texas Congressman Ron Paul was the favorite among Republicans. Paul earned 237 votes in the non-binding poll, followed by Santorum’s 209 votes. Mitt Romney had 105 votes in the district, Newt Gingrich 61 votes." The February 7 south Washington precinct-level caucus results, which were not reflected in the official statewide total, were alone sufficient to offset two-thirds of the difference between Romney and Paul in the official statewide totals.
The cancellation of the Washington County super-caucus alone among Maine caucuses scheduled for February 11 has led many Paul supporters to suspect electoral shenanigans by the Republican establishment to deny Paul a state victory. That Washington County would vote heavily in favor of Paul was well-known, and Paul was widely seen as the only credible threat to Romney.
Maine state GOP Chairman Charlie Webster vowed that later caucuses would not be counted in the vote totals. "Some caucuses decided not to participate in this poll and will caucus after this announcement," Webster told the Associated Press February 11. "Their results will not be factored in. The absent votes will not be factored into this announcement after the fact."
The Washington County super-caucus was the only one to have been postponed because of ananticipated snowstorm. But while some media forecast six or more inches of snow, the Washington County forecast from the National Weather Service for February 11 was for a total of 3-5 inches of accumulation during the day, hardly out-of-the-ordinary for the Maine climate in February. Moreover, the Portland area was forecast to have almost as much snow, 1-3 inches, while nearby Hancock County had an identical forecast as Washington County. Yet caucuses were not cancelled in those areas.
Ron Paul 2012 national campaign chairman Jesse Benton predicted victory when the delegate process is completed in a website statement. “We are confident that we will control the Maine delegation for the convention in August. Our campaign is so thankful to all of our supporters in Maine, and all over the nation, and we want them to know that we plan to take this message all the way to the White House.”
Rep. Paul's campaign has stressed that the establishment is desperate to get Romney a couple of state wins after losing Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri to former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum earlier last week. "Maine is a state in Romney’s backyard that he should’ve been able to walk away with easily. That Mitt almost lost to Ron tonight–and that Mitt still may lose to Ron in the days to come–does not bode well for the establishment candidate," Ron Paul campaign blogger Jack Hunter argued as the caucus results emerged.