Mitt Romney gains votes in updated Maine count

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a caucus, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Robert F. Bukaty
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

Good news for Mitt Romney: A recalculation of the Maine caucuses has left him with a slightly larger lead over Ron Paul than he had previously, lowering the odds that he will ultimately be stripped of his victory.

When Romney was announced as the winner of the lightly-attended, non-binding caucuses last Saturday, he led Paul by less than 200 votes. After acknowledging that it failed to count some caucuses, the Maine GOP released an updated count late Friday afternoon. The new count shows Romney with 2,269 votes to Paul's 2,030.

The party said it had made initial errors in its count, and that some of the original results went into an email spam folder.

The big question now is what happens in the Washington County caucus tomorrow afternoon. The caucus there was (somewhat mysteriously) rescheduled from last Saturday, prompting suggestions from Paul's campaign that Romney supporters were trying to manipulate the process. The Paul campaign describes Washington County as a stronghold, despite the fact that Paul won just eight votes there in the 2008 cycle.

There were only 113 votes cast total in the county in 2008. Seeing as Romney's lead is now over 200 votes, it seems unlikely tomorrow's results will put Paul over the top. Still, it's possible: Paul's Maine backers have mobilizing to get supporters to the caucus tomorrow, and a relatively large turnout is expected.

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Despite the fact that the Washington County caucus is being held after the results were announced, it will probably count. State party leaders are urging their party committee to include the results in the final tally when they meet on March 10.

The Maine caucuses are non-binding, so it doesn't technically matter who won - delegates to the national convention will actually be decided at Maine's state convention in early May. But Romney has already been stripped of what had been a victory in the Iowa caucuses, and his campaign is hoping to avoid the negative headlines that would come were there to be a repeat in Maine.

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