Romney squeaks by with narrow win in Maine Caucuses
I suppose from Romney's point of view, a win is a win at this point. But in his New England back yard and in ideological territory that should have been very friendly to him (Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are the state's senators), his 3 point win over Ron Paul in the Maine Caucuses cannot fill him with much confidence.
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney bounced back from midweek losses in three states to narrowly win Maine's caucuses on Saturday, hours after winning a straw poll of Republican conservative activists.
Results of Maine's non-binding straw poll showed the former Massachusetts governor with 39 percent support, or 2,190 votes, ahead of libertarian Texas Congressman Ron Paul with 36 percent or 1,996 votes.
Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, who did not campaign in Maine, won 18 percent and 6 percent of the vote, respectively. Despite signs of higher voter turnout, the votes cast in Maine appeared to be only slightly above 2008 levels.
The outcome capped a good day for Romney, who unexpectedly lost to Santorum, a social conservative, in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado on Tuesday to generate new doubts about his appeal to party conservatives. Republicans are seeking a nominee to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 6 general election.
Romney earlier won a closely watched straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, with 38 percent support to Santorum's 31 percent.
More moderate than his rivals, Romney, a former venture capitalist, has struggled to convince conservatives he is one of them. He spoke to CPAC on Friday and called himself "severely conservative."
"I thank the voters of Maine for their support," Romney said in a statement after the Maine results. I'm committed to turning around America. And I'm heartened to have the support of so many good people in this great state."
The campaign now goes on hiatus until the end of the month when Michigan and Arizona will hold their primaries. Romney is not expected to have much trouble in Michigan; it's his home state and his family has deep ties there.
But newly annointed frontrunner Rick Santorum should give Mitt a run for his money in Arizona. It is not an expensive media state, negating one of Romney's strengths. And social conservatives are energized by Santorum's emergence and should turn out in droves to support him.
It will be organization vs. enthusiasm in Arizona with the winner sure to get a boost going into Super Tuesday on March 6.