A Ron Paul win in Maine would help Santorum – and Obama

With Ron Paul and Mitt Romney both in Maine for the GOP caucuses, and results to be announced later today, Paul’s supporters are excited that their candidate might actually win — somewhere.

But a win for Ron Paul won’t do much for his quest for the Republican nomination.  Paul has a floor — he’s guaranteed to get ~10-15% in every state and he can raise enough money to keep campaigning.  His supporters are incredibly loyal and truly believe in Ron Paul’s positions.

But Ron Paul also has a ceiling. He can’t go beyond it, not when the GOP primary electorate listen to his combination of isolationism and stalwart states’ rights and libertarianism on marijuana and view that major programs like Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional.

Can he win Maine? Sure, that’s possible.

On the scene, fellow Bangor Daily News blogger Kevin Price is reporting higher than expected turnout at the Portland caucuses, with lots of Paul supporters.

But a Ron Paul win in Maine would help another candidate — Rick Santorum.

Former Senator Santorum, cast out of office by quite a large margin, appears to be the last man standing in the not-Mitt category.

Public Policy Polling is reporting today that:

Riding a wave of momentum from his trio of victories on Tuesday Rick Santorum has opened up a wide lead in PPP’s newest national poll. He’s at 38% to 23% for Mitt Romney, 17% for Newt Gingrich, and 13% for Ron Paul.

And if Gingrich should drop out, Santorum quickly moves to the top.

Santorum gets to 50% in the Newt free field to 28% for Romney and 15% for Paul.

A win for Ron Paul in Maine hurts Romney. Romney is no longer as strong candidate versus President Obama than he once was, but I can’t see any scenario in which Santorum can win the presidency.

Birth control has been a big issue lately. About 98% of women have used birth control. Women are a larger percentage of the voting population than men. And what does Santorum think about birth control? He doesn’t think anyone should use and insurance shouldn’t cover it.

That won’t be a winning position in the fall.

As to Maine’s impact, the caucus results won’t matter tremendously. But Romney’s campaign staff have to really want a win in order to try to change the narrative that his candidacy is in trouble. They have to depend on their reliable supporters to come out for him, even as Paul’s will always show up.

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Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.