Mitt Romney may not have won Maine after all
A few days ago, I nearly wrote a post, based on what I was reading from some elections observers, encouraging Ron Paul supporters to calm down over the results in Maine. Paul supporters were arguing that the election had been stolen due to uncounted ballots. Josh Putnam, who blogs at Frontloading HQ and offers insight I generally respect, discounted the “conspiracy” being floated.
But over at the American Spectator, Jim Antle notes that the Maine Republican Party is under scrutiny due to the number of uncounted ballots, which may or may not be enough to question whether Mitt Romney won the caucus:
The Bangor Daily News is reporting that the Maine Republican Party is facing increasing pressure to reconsider its claim that Mitt Romney won the state’s caucuses until all the votes are counted. (Hat tip: Taegan Goddard.) Some caucuses were postponed due to snow and told that they won’t count in the final tally; towns that had their caucuses before February 11 were also inexplicably not counted.
The Bangor paper quotes a political science professor as saying “It sure looks like they counted what they wanted to count.” It is by no means clear that the missing votes would be enough to change the outcome, but even Republicans who didn’t support runner-up Ron Paul are concerned about the perceptions created by the state party’s handling of the caucuses.
I’m not claiming “conspiracy” at this point given that this we’ve seen this happen before during this race; for example, the Iowa GOP’s mishandling of ballots in their state could have cost Rick Santorum much needed momentum heading into South Carolina.
To some extent, however, Paul supporters have a point; though it’s largely based on perception. While a Ron Paul win in Maine probably wouldn’t affect the outcome of the Republican primary overall, it would certainly give credence to the fact that there is a growing libertarian influence inside the conservative movement.
When it’s all said in and done, Romney may well have won Maine, but Paul supporters now have something, legitimate or not, to back their claims that there are being cast aside by Republicans. That doesn’t help Republicans heading into the general election, where Paul’s voters, many of whom are independents, are needed to beat Barack Obama.