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Romney Wins Maine Caucuses

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While all the political (and media-generated) momentum seems to be on John McCain's side, Mitt Romney won a small, but perhaps important battle this weekend by overwhelmingly winning the Maine Republican caucuses (the Democratic caucuses will be held on Feburary 10th).

The GOP caucuses took place across the state from Friday through Sunday, with most completed by Saturday night. The caucus votes are nonbinding but, based on the results, the Associated Press estimates Romney will win all 18 delegates stemming from the caucus process. The state has 21 delegates to the GOP convention overall.

With 68 percent reporting at the end of Saturday, the results were:

Romney = 52%
McCain = 21%
Paul = 19%
Huckabee = 6%
Undecided = 2%

McCain had been endorsed by both of Maine's moderate Republican Senators—Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

Despite its nonbinding status, the Maine caucuses may be a good sign for Romney. Romney is counting on finishing first in several caucus states on Super Tuesday to stay in the race for the GOP nomination, essentially ceding several primary contests to McCain—especially in the South and Northeast. Caucus states are generally thought to favor Romney as they are more frequently attended by conservatives and "true blood" Republicans, as opposed to the Republican moderates and independents which comprise the base of McCain's support in primaries.

Montana, Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, North Dakota, and West Virginia are all holding cacuses on February 5th. With Romney scoring a caucus win in a Northeastern state like Maine, expect him to finish first in most of the western caucus states (Romney had already won the Wyoming and Nevada caucuses).

McCain's advantage coming into Tuesday, however, is significant, as his likely wins in the Northeast give him much bigger delegate prizes (several states are winner-take-all on the GOP side) than those states in which Romney is projected to be competitive.

Over the next 24 hours Smart Politics will be posting its Super Tuesday Preview for both the GOP and Democrats.

Previous post: MPR / HHH MN Senate Poll: Franken & Coleman in Dead Heat
Next post: California a Toss Up for the GOP

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Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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