Friday, February 17, 2012

A Follow Up on the Maine Republican Caucuses

A great many folks have happened upon FHQ's "No Conspiracy in Maine" post from last Sunday throughout the week, and apparently have felt obligated to either push back against that notion and/or fill me in on all the news that has subsequently come out on the matter. Grant me a few follow up comments:

1. First of all, that post was written on Sunday morning; the morning following the release of the caucus results by Pine Tree state Republicans. The main premise of the piece was to point out that looking back at 2008 caucus turnout, there simply weren't enough votes in either Washington County -- the one county with a grievance in all of this vote counting because of its scheduled-on-time-but-postponed meeting -- or the remaining caucus areas that will either caucus this weekend or on March 3. Even if the vote totals from 2008 were adjusted to reflect the rise in turnout statewide in 2012 relative to 2008 (152 votes), it still would not have provided enough votes -- if split among candidates -- to put any candidate ahead of Mitt Romney. Even if Ron Paul was able to win all those votes, he still would have come up short.

Now, it should be noted that by taking the stand that it did -- that only caucuses on or before February 11 would be counted -- MEGOP raised the stakes in Washington County in particular, increasing the likelihood that more caucusgoers in that area could be mobilized in a way that overperformed the increase in turnout witnessed elsewhere in the state relative to 2008.

2. To that end, the Maine Republican Party has attempted to defuse the situation:

AUGUSTA, ME -Today the Executive Committee of the Maine State Republican Party met to discuss the Presidential Preference Poll results and have approved the following statement from Chairman Charlie Webster. 
“We have worked diligently to contact town chairmen throughout Maine to reconfirm the results of their individual caucuses. These totals once confirmed will be posted on the Maine Republican Party Web site 
All Republicans are keenly aware of the intense interest in the results of the Maine Republican Party Presidential Preference Poll. In fact, I have had numerous conversations with Senate President Kevin Raye and Washington County Commissioner Chris Gardner regarding their concerns that the Washington County poll results be included in our final tally. As a result of these conversations I called a meeting of the Executive Committee to discuss this matter. 
The results of the Washington County caucus will be reviewed at the March 10 Republican State Committee Meeting. The Executive Committee voted unanimously to recommend to the State Committee that they include the results in the final tally for the Presidential Preference Poll as their caucus had been scheduled to occur by the February 11 deadline, however it was postponed due to inclement weather.” -- MEGOP press release "Chairman Webster Meets with Maine Republican Party Executive Committee", 2/16/12

Regardless, a new vote total showing the Romney lead increasing by a "not significant number" is expected from the party today that should remedy the "spam folder" votes that were never counted. Now, whether that lessens or increases the turnout in Washington County and other areas tomorrow or on March 3 won't be known until later. But there is some ray of light in the above release that the Washington County votes may be added to the total when the Executive Committee meets again on March 10. [At that point why not just count the other areas as well?]

3. That question above gets us back to the rules to which the Maine Republican Party has stuck. A portion of the flak I have gotten over the Maine aftermath post was from Ron Paul folks arguing that FHQ was missing the point by focusing on past turnout and not the efforts that could be made to further mobilize in Washington County. Point well taken, but the idea of Washington County making the difference in the outcome was entirely dependent upon the Maine Republican Party backing off on its stubborn February 11 or before stance that excluded Washington County from the count. Now, that the party has seemingly backed off that stance -- or at least appeared open to considering the inclusion of those votes -- this is a non-issue unless and until the Washington County vote overperforms turnout elsewhere in the state and provides Paul with a margin that helps the Texas congressman surpass the 194+ vote margin Mitt Romney now has in the eyes of the Maine Republican Party.

4. As for the rest of the conspiracy theories that are and have been floating around out there, FHQ never really commented on those -- just the mathematically insignificant previous vote totals in the outlying areas yet to caucus. We'll (thankfully) defer to the Maine Republican Party on that matter.

But as I tweeted yesterday, we aren't likely to see any of those results rom Washington County or even the other areas until Super Tuesday -- or now later, given the March 10 Executive Committee meeting. By then the focus will have shifted to the state of the race for the Republican nomination after Super Tuesday and the other upcoming contests.

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Dr. Don Saunders said...

Dear Prof. Putnam, heard you on Terry Gross's Fresh Air the other day and my ears pricked up when I heard mention of alma mater, Davidson. I appreciated your remarks on the show and I hope you enjoy your stay on campus.
I do have to offer a correction to your blog: no English prof of my Davidson days would have let go by your use of diffuse instead of defuse. The latter is (I feel reasonably sure) what party officials in Maine were trying to do to the situation. I understand full well a blog is not the place to look for perfect spelling and grammar. Just wanted to let you know the college inculcated high standards in this student!
I have bookmarked your blog and will come back to it for enlightenment as this wild election season rolls along.
Cheerful good wishes!

Josh Putnam said...

Thanks for your note, Don.

Quick typing and even quicker proofreading are matters the results of which I'm on the receiving fairly regularly. I should know better!

All fixed.

Go Cats!