Maine's Caucus Confusion: One County Might Be Included After Saturday
The Maine Republican Party announced Feb. 11 that Mitt Romney had won the state's caucuses by 194 votes.
In the days after the announcement, however, some problems began to emerge. Reports indicated that the state party had omitted numbers for places such as Waldo and Waterville. Rep. Ron Paul supporters complained about the decision not to count the results from Washington County, a rural county in the northeastern most part of the state, which had decided to delay its caucuses a week because of weather concerns.
After almost a week of pressure, the Maine GOP finally released a carefully worded announcement Thursday saying that the party was "reconfirming" the results of individual caucuses.
"We have worked diligently to contact town chairmen throughout Maine to reconfirm the results of their individual caucuses," read the statement, put forth by Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster. "These totals, once confirmed, will be posted on the Maine Republican Party Website."
Webster assured ABC News that the new numbers do not actually change the outcome; Romney still placed first in the state. "It doesn't affect the total in a significant way," Webster said. "The results are the same."
The kerfuffle in Maine is just the latest in a series of caucus state missteps this election. They started in Iowa where some votes were lost and the party was forced to announce its results off an incomplete total. Rick Santorum was ultimately declared the winner, after originally placing second to Romney, although the true outcome will remain unknown.
Then came Nevada, where it took the party two days to tally all its results and finally announce who placed second, third and fourth in the Silver State.
The question of what will happen with Washington County's caucuses, however, is going to remain lingering, at least for a couple of weeks. Webster told ABC News that the Republican State Committee will make a final ruling about whether it will include the Washington County results in the final caucus tally when the committee meets March 10.
The party's Executive Committee, of which Webster is a member, has recommended that the Republican State Committee include the votes, but ultimately the State Committee will have the final say.
Paul needs a net increase of 195 votes to claim victory in the Pine Tree State. In 2008, Washington County cast a total of 113 votes. The Texas congressman took eight of them. But with all of the media attention surrounding the counties postponed caucuses, it is a distinct possibility that turnout will increase greatly this year.
If the results of Washington County change the outcome of the race, the timing of the decision regarding whether to actually include the county in the final tally will likely lessen the blow. That's because March 10 falls after Super Tuesday- on March 6 - when10 states are scheduled to hold their voting contests and when the race will take a clearer shape.