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The mass media have repeated the official results for the Maine GOP presidential caucuses that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney narrowly beat Texas Congressman Ron Paul by a 39 percent to 36 percent margin. But the official results are incomplete. And postponement of the results from one of Ron Paul’s strongest counties, Washington County, because of a forecasted snowstorm may alone have tipped the balance in Romney’s favor.
Ron Paul’s campaign confidently predicted victory when the final votes are tallied. "Only 194 votes [statewide] stand between Paul and a first place victory," RonPaul2012 blogger Jack Hunter pointed out in a post after the media declared Romney the winner. "Washington County is a stronghold for Paul and has yet to report. It might be a week before we know the final outcome there and Washington County is expected to yield 200 votes or more." Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum placed third with 18 percent of the vote in the official Maine caucus, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich placed fourth with six percent of the vote.
Hunter’s prediction is not just braggadocio. In south Washington County, Maine, Paul beat Romney by 132 votes in a February 7 Cottage Grove precinct-level caucus preceding the county "super-caucus" that was supposed to be held September 11 but will now be held February 18. Maine’s South Washington County Bulletin reported February 8: "In District 57 … Texas Congressman Ron Paul was the favorite among Republicans. Paul earned 237 votes in the non-binding poll, followed by Santorum’s 209 votes. Mitt Romney had 105 votes in the district, Newt Gingrich 61 votes." The February 7 south Washington precinct-level caucus results, which were not reflected in the official statewide total, were alone sufficient to offset two-thirds of the difference between Romney and Paul in the official statewide totals.
The cancellation of the Washington County super-caucus alone among Maine caucuses scheduled for February 11 has led many Paul supporters to suspect electoral shenanigans by the Republican establishment to deny Paul a state victory. That Washington County would vote heavily in favor of Paul was well-known, and Paul was widely seen as the only credible threat to Romney.
Maine state GOP Chairman Charlie Webster vowed that later caucuses would not be counted in the vote totals. "Some caucuses decided not to participate in this poll and will caucus after this announcement," Webster told the Associated Press February 11. "Their results will not be factored in. The absent votes will not be factored into this announcement after the fact."