It is a one-to-one match between Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Ron Paul in Maine. The state, which is holding a more-than-a-day caucusing, has 24 delegates to offer. Romney, who had won the state in 2008 Republican primaries, is hoping to repeat the same in 2012. While Texas Congressman Paul, is looking for his first victory.
The caucuses are being held in several small counties in the state between Jan. 29 and March 3 though the GOP had encouraged the municipal committees to conduct the caucus from Feb. 4 to Feb.11. The caucusing will end officially by Saturday evening and the results based on a non-binding presidential straw poll will be announced by the state's Republican Party after 7.30 p.m. Saturday.
The contest is directly between Romney and Paul in Maine as none of the other GOP candidates have the organization to campaign here. Both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum did not campaign actively in the state.
Although Maine is a smaller state and has fewer delegates, a convincing victory here is a must for Romney, who is struggling to get his lost ground back after his humiliating defeat to Santorum in the last three GOP state polls. A victory here can help him win back his top frontrunner status, whereas Paul who, has campaigned here extensively, needs a victory to keep his candidacy afloat in the race.
The Maine Republican voter base is divided on geographical and economical factors. The state has a considerable number of liberal and independent voters who subscribe to Paul's ideology. The rural voters - struck by a struggling economy - are expected to back Paul more than the pro-establishment billionaire Romney.
Furthermore, Paul has held several well-attended campaign events in the state, and he believes that the Maine's caucusing system along with the enthusiastic and independent-minded voters could fetch him his first victory. Paul even skipped the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Council) meet to concentrate on his campaigning.
Romney, on the other hand, has the support of the upper class and business-oriented communities who can identify themselves with him. Romney is also popular in the state as a neighborhood politician. Romney was the Governor of Massachusetts, the neighboring state of Maine. Romney has taken the contest seriously and it is evident from the fact that he is holding two campaign events on the day of the poll, which he had not done earlier, according to a CNN report.
Paul is going to stop at three venues on the final caucus day in the state with the hope of encouraging as many voters as possible to caucus Feb.11. According to the state's Republican Party, there was an increase in the caucusing voters this year in the state, as compared to the 2008 elections. The increase is up to 100 percent in several areas.
Interestingly, both Romney and Paul never attacked each other during the campaign and, instead, targeted their attacks on Barack Obama, Gingrich and Santorum.