Maine Predictions

February 11, 2012

Today the results of the Maine caucuses will be announced. Maine votes in an unusual fashion with caucuses spread out over weeks (although most were this week and they are less spread out than they have been in other cycles). Thus, it is hard to sense the dynamics of the race, which is part of why there were no recent polls in the state. For instance, many caucuses in the state were held before former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum swept Tuesday's three states; so he will not get a full bounce for his latest surge. As a result, Maine is state with the most unknowns of any so far this year. Yet, I will try to offer a few predictions for the vote in the Pine Tree State, and feel free to add your own in the comments. Hopefully I will do better than Tuesday when I had my worst three states. So far, here is what percentage of the vote I have correctly guessed in each state: Iowa (89%), New Hampshire (83%), South Carolina (92%), Florida (90%). Nevada (94%), Missouri (78%), Minnesota (60%), and Colorado (76%).

1. U.S. Representative Ron Paul will probably do well, perhaps even gaining his first win. Paul captured 18 percent of the vote here four years ago and generally does better in caucus states. Although he has improved on his vote in every state, he has not done as well as expected at times, only capturing only second place in New Hampshire and Minnesota. However, with perhaps as few as four thousand voters in the Maine caucuses, he could win even though he is not highly popular in the state. If he wins, it would make him the fourth candidate to win a state in this campaign, which has not occurred in modern Republican presidential campaigns.

2. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is looking for a comeback. He won Maine with 52 percent of the vote four years ago, but, as we saw earlier this week in Colorado and Minnesota, that does not mean much. He will probably again underperform, which is not good for him as there will be more than two weeks until he can redeem himself in another state.

3. The biggest unknown is how much of an impact Santorum's night on Tuesday will have on the caucuses that voted since then. He will probably again top former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. If Santorum pulls out another upset victory, the pressure on Gingrich to leave the race will continue to rise.

So, I put my shot in the dark at: Paul (30%), Romney (28%), Santorum (24%), Gingrich (17%).



UPDATE [2-24-12]: Well, I did not get very close--but Maine did not count very well. First, they announced the results as Romney (39%), Paul (36%), Santorum (18%), and Gingrich (6%). That put me at only getting 66 percent of the vote correct. However, there were a couple of problems with that result. First, the results were only 87 percent of the vote since some caucuses are held later (and one was postponed due to snow). Second, it turns out that some of the results went to the "spam" box in email (yes, they were apparently emailing results!). When the recount of those votes was done several days later, the results changed to Romney (39%), Paul (35%), Santorum (18%), Gingrich (7%). This change improved my prediction to being 68 percent correct. Now there is debate about if to include any other precincts that vote later, especially the one that was originally schedule prior to the deadline for reporting. All of this has led to calls for the head of the Maine GOP to lose his job, which might occur since the head of the Iowa GOP bowed to pressure to resign following mistakes made in that state's caucus--and the mistakes in Maine are much worse than those in Iowa.

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