The 2012 Maine caucuses have left several questions surrounding the integrity and straightforwardness of the caucus process. While it is true that many voting precincts held caucus events around the state between February 4th through the 11th, not every precinct in the state participated in the official results and some precincts were delayed due to inclement weather and will not caucus until this week. Worse still is those precincts that do caucus after the fact will not be included in the official caucus results reported by the Maine Republican Party. Therefore, the official results put out by the Maine Republican Party consist of vote totals from only 84% of caucus precincts.
The Maine Republican Party released this statement for the seeming discrepancy in vote totals which left off at only 84% of precincts reporting yet the official results being delivered with Mitt Romney winning first place:
Maine is considered a ‘beauty contest’ state when it comes to caucuses. That is to say, there are no national delegates ‘won’ or ‘bound’ to any Presidential candidate in our caucus process. At the caucuses, we elect state delegates, election clerks, and in some cases town officers. What we also do is ask those participating in the caucus, to take a poll on which Presidential candidate they prefer. This is an unofficial, non-binding poll, that just simply show’s a ‘snapshot’, or takes the current ‘pulse’, of which Presidential candidate has the most support at the participating caucuses throughout the state. Some caucuses decided to not participate in the Presidential poll, and will caucus after this announcement. Their results WILL NOT be factored into this announcement after the fact. Again, this is an unofficial, non-binding poll, and we will elect our actual national delegation, from the floor of the state convention on May 5TH and 6TH.
Mitt Romney has 39.2 percent of the vote with 2190 votes, Ron Paul has 35.7 percent with 1996 votes, Rick Santorum has 17.7percent with 989 votes, and Newt Gingrich has 6.25 percent with 349 votes.
Note the bold portion (emphasis mine) in that statement indicating that these official results are suspect in that they do not reflect 100% of the caucus voting taking place.
The Ron Paul campaign also took note of this discrepancy and fired off a pointed press release:
“Ron Paul will win the most delegates out of Maine tonight.
“In fact, he will probably even win the ‘beauty contest’ straw poll the media has already called for Mitt Romney – even before all the votes have been tallied.
“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.
“Of course, their excuse for the delay was ‘snow.’
“That’s right. A prediction of 3-4 inches – that turned into nothing more than a dusting – was enough for a local GOP official to postpone the caucuses just so the results wouldn’t be reported tonight.
“This is MAINE we’re talking about. The GIRL SCOUTS had an event today in Washington County that wasn’t cancelled!
“And just the votes of Washington County would have been enough to put us over the top.”
While I give no endorsement of any candidate or campaign on this website, I do have to agree with the sentiment put forth by the Paul campaign that if you’re going to call results official, they should reflect 100% of the vote instead of merely 84%. Luckily for Paul, the Maine caucus results are non-binding meaning that they do not directly award delegates toward the 2012 GOP convention. That being said, it does not erase the reporting of a “victory” for the Romney campaign that will often not underscore that the victory resulted from 84% of the vote, not 100%.
My likely unheeded recommendation to the Maine Republican Party: Set your caucus time on 1 night, let all precincts vote, then report 100% of the vote totals and base the official results on those numbers. Mitt Romney may still well have been the victor in Maine, however, at least it would have occurred with 100% of the vote being reported.