Robert F. Bukaty / AP
One of the four GOP contests today is in Maine, where Republicans will caucus. (Democrats hold their own caucuses tomorrow.) Whatever the results, Republican officials will be hoping this year’s caucus is less of a catastrophe than the 2012 edition.
Four years ago, eventual nominee Mitt Romney won the state. That was a big disappointment for Representative Ron Paul, who had aggressively campaigned in Maine. But it emerged that there were several problems with the vote. Because of bad weather, several counties were unable to actually hold their caucuses on Election Day (though they had two and a half months to do so ahead of time). State officials refused to count the results of a makeup caucus the following week. Paul backers were furious, especially because one of the affected counties was strong for him. Based on the numbers at play, Paul almost certainly wouldn’t have won the state with the extra votes, but it was easy to see why voters were furious and felt disenfranchised.
So furious were they, in fact, that they took advantage of the arcane rules of caucuses and staged a small coup at the state convention—caucusgoers just choose delegates to the convention, who then decide who the state’s delegates to the Republican National Convention will be. When the dust cleared, 20 of 24 Maine delegates were Paul backers. Then the national party disqualified 10 of them, replacing them with Romney fans. For a small state where Republicans aren’t even a majority, Maine produces a lot of GOP acrimony.
The state GOP has made several changes to try to avoid such a fate this year. It will be easier to register, and all 23 delegates at stake will be “bound” to support a candidate. Predicting who might win is tough, though Governor Paul LePage has endorsed Trump. The good news is it’s supposed to be a cold but sunny day—so caucus cancelations shouldn’t be an issue.