Saturday, February 02, 2008
Mainers vote - about 73% of voters cast a ballot in 2004, compared with 64% nationally. Maine has the oldest median age in the nation, is 96% white, and as any visitor knows, over 12% of the state is below the poverty line in a high cost-of-living state.
Today, amid an ice storm and slush, they held their Republican Presidential Caucus to send 18 delegates to the convention this fall. Both popular moderate Republican Senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, spoke on behalf of John McCain.
They had a good crowd. According to the Associated Press, "Kim Pettengill, who has been a party activist for more than three decades, said Saturday's was the largest Kennebec County caucus turnout since 1980, the year Ronald Reagan won his first GOP nomination for president. Party Executive Director Julie O'Brien said other counties reported similarly heavy turnouts. In coastal Damariscotta, O'Brien said she counted about 400 people packing the meeting at the Great Salt Bay School, and local organizers said it was the biggest turnout they had seen."
To put this in perspective, Porcupine met Sen. McCain there at a rally for candidate Chan Woodcock in 2006, and 25 people was considered a big event.
But, at the end of the day, the caucus went to Romney, whose son Tagg attended the caucuses. The vote tallied Romney with 53 percent of the vote, John McCain trailing with 21 percent, Ron Paul was third with 19 percent, and Mike Huckabee had 5 percent. Undecided votes accounted for 2 percent.
A couple of observations - Huckabee blew it big-time by not campaigning here. Maine is Oklahoma with pine trees. The tiny town where Porcupine has his summer burrow has only 2,400 people - about the same size as the town of West Tisbury here in Massachusetts - but four competing Baptist churches. Also, all the flap about Romney not being backed by more Republican Governors - if both popular Senators personally spoke on caucus day for McCain, how influential are these endorsements, anyway?
Mainers are concerned about the economy - with good reason - and illegal immigration across their largely unpatrolled border. The 9/11 terrorists began their flight at the Bangor International Airport, flying in from Canada and proceeding to Logan Airport in Boston. Porcupine believes it was Romney's stance on these issues that proved so appealing, and wonders if this vote is a harbinger of next Tuesday.