Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won the Maine caucus on Saturday night, in a victory over odds-on favorite Ron Paul that was so narrow supporters of the Texas congressman are openly questioning the results.
Romney won the non-binding caucuses by just three points, 39-percent to 36-percent for Ron Paul. But the vote total shows how close it really was: Romney got only 194 more votes than Congressman Paul. Rick Santorum trailed in third with 18-percent, and Newt Gingrich received 6-percent of the vote.
Caucusing in Maine began on February 4, and some towns had yet to caucus, reports The Sun Journal. Saturday night’s total was only 83-percent of the total vote. Despite the fact that total votes would only come in f0r at least the next week, Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster said they would not count and not alter the decision made Saturday night.
The news was not taken well by Paul supporters Saturday night, reports Politico. Some shouted “liar!” at the television screen when Chairman Webster announced the results, while others asked if all the votes from dead people had been counted yet.
“The Paul campaign had tried to lower expectations somewhat during the day, Politico reports, “alleging that the Romney campaign had been involved in some tricky business, and predicting that the results would be very close.”
Some have pointed to an early projection result posted by Google early Saturday morning showing Romney beating Paul by a slim margin.
In particular, a senior Paul aide had suggested that the Romney campaign was involved in the cancellation of Washington County’s caucuses, a small county where Paul’s campaign had expected to do well. “It’s not completely insidious, but they knew we were going to swamp it up there,” said Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton.
The state GOP said that the caucuses were cancelled due to inclement weather.
Congressman Paul attempted to rally supporters with a concession speech given moments after the results were announced.
“Just remember, the revolution is only beginning,” Paul told cheering supporters. “The momentum is going to continue, we’re not going away. We’re going to be in all these places where we’re going to pick up, continue to pick up the delegates, for one good reason — we have the message that America needs at this particular time.”
In a later interview with CNN, Paul said he would continue his strategy of racking up delegates in smaller states, and might compete in some primary states where votes are awarded proportionately rather than winner-take-all states. “If there is a good chance in one of the very expensive states and it is proportional, we will be in those states,” he said.
Congressman Paul conceded that Romney was well on his way to winning the GOP nomination, citing the candidate’s money and organization.
The current delegate count, according to the Wall Street Journal, is: Romney – 123, Santorum – 72, Gingrich – 32, and Paul – 19. Jon Huntsman, who has ended his campaign, has 2 delegates.