On Saturday, Maine will announce the winner of its presidential straw poll, and Ron Paul may win big. Although he is the only one of the four remaining contenders for the GOP nomination not to have won a state primary or caucus, Paul may have his best shot at a victory tonight in the far northeastern state.
Mitt Romney is generally viewed as the favorite in Maine, but Paul has a loyal following in the state, and he currently stands second to Romney in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll. Intrade predicts that Romney will win and Paul will finish in second place.
Caucusing has been under way in Maine since January 29, and will continue in a few small towns until March. But, the Republican Party will announce the winner at 6:45 pm EST.
Earlier this week, Paul finished in second place in Minnesota behind surging Rick Santorum with 27.1% of the vote. Speaking to his supporters in Minnesota, Paul said he expects to do well in Maine.
Associate professor of political science at the University of Maine in Orono Mark Brewer said, "If Ron Paul is going to win one state, this is the one. There's a particularly strong libertarian streak in Maine's political culture, and Ron Paul can tap into that in a way that the others really can't. He can generate a mass of enthusiasm, particularly among college students."
Maine is home to dozens of universities and college, including the University of Maine, Bowdoin College, Bates College, and Colby College.
Santorum and Newt Gingrich have largely ignored Maine, instead focusing on battleground states for Super Tuesday in March.
Mitt Romney flew to Portland late on Friday for a town hall meeting, just hours after a speech at CPAC in Washington, D.C. He'll be looking to reclaim some momentum after disappointing finishes this week in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado.
Maine has only 24 delegates at stake. A candidate needs 1,144 delegates in order to win the Republican nomination.
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