(AUGUSTA, Maine) — On Saturday evening, the Maine Republican Party will announce the results of its state’s caucus. Still, Saturday isn’t neccesarily the date of the Pine Tree State’s caucus.
While the GOP candidates and the media have focused much of their attention over the past week on Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Missouri, a voting contest has been under way in Vacationland since Saturday, Feb. 4.
Maine hosts a “lazy caucus.”
The state’s Republican Party requested that Maine’s counties and municipalities hold their caucus events sometime between Feb. 4 and Feb. 11. The majority of the state’s events have been slated for Feb. 11, but a couple of towns have already caucused.
Twenty-four delegates are at stake in Maine’s contest. In 2008, Mitt Romney won the state, which is close to his home base of Massachusetts, with 52 percent of the vote. John McCain and Ron Paul finished in second and third place, with 22 percent and 18 percent of the vote respectively. Turnout was low in 2008 — 5,482 votes were cast, about 1 percent of the voting eligible population.
Though Democrats have carried the state in recent presidential elections, Maine is very much a “purple state.” It has two Republican senators and a Republican governor, but their two House reps are Democrats. Mainers pride themselves on their political independence, which makes Paul a popular candidate.
Maine’s caucus is open only to registered Republicans. Previously, unregistered voters and voters previously unaffiliated with a party, can register as Republicans at the polls, which means that independent voters can participate in the event.
In his speech to supporters Tuesday night, coming off of his second-place finish in Minnesota, Paul said he expected to do well in the state.
Because the Maine Republican Party will release the statewide results of the caucus in bulk Saturday evening, there will not be the same ability to monitor the various counties for a sense of how the race is going.
The end of Maine’s caucus week marks the start of a quiet period in the primary schedule. The next primaries will be in Arizona and Michigan on Feb. 28.
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