Thursday, February 16, 2012
By now, it is clear that the Maine caucuses were a complete mess.
Evidence is mounting that Mitt Romney’s 194-vote victory over Ron Paul was prematurely announced, if not totally wrong. Washington County canceled their caucus on Saturday on account of three inches of snow (hardly a blizzard by Maine standards), and other towns that scheduled their caucuses for this week have been left out of the vote count. Now, it looks like caucuses that did take place before Feb. 11 have also been left out of final tally.
As the full extent of the chaos unfolds, sources close to the Paul campaign tell Business Insider that it is looking increasingly like Romney’s team might have a hand in denying Paul votes, noting that Romney has some admirably ruthless operatives on his side and a powerful incentive to avoid a fifth caucus loss this month.
According to the Paul campaign, the Maine Republican Party is severely under-reporting Paul’s results — and Romney isn’t getting the same treatment. For example, nearly all the towns in Waldo County — a Ron Paul stronghold – held their caucuses on Feb. 4, but the state GOP reported no results for those towns. In Waterville, a college town in Central Maine, results were reported but not included in the party vote count. Paul beat Romney 21-5 there, according to the Kennebec County GOP.
“It’s too common,” senior advisor Doug Wead told Business Insider. “If it was chaos, we would expect strong Romney counties to be unreported, and that’s not what’s happening.”
The Maine Republican Party won’t decide which votes it will count until the executive committee meets next month. But Wead points out that even if Mitt Romney holds on to his slim lead, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.
“He will have disenfranchised all of these people,” Wead said. “It could be a costly victory — it is a mistake.”
The (alleged) bias against Paul may also be the product of an organic opposition to the libertarian Congressman and his army of ardent fans. Paul volunteers tend to be young and relatively new to party politics, and their presence has many state GOP stalwarts feeling territorial.