Saturday, 11 February 2012 11:36
PORTLAND: Maine's Republican presidential caucuses look like a two-man race between Mitt Romney, the party's current front-runner, and libertarian Ron Paul in a small-state contest that has taken on new importance for Romney after his losses in three states this week.
Voting in dozens of local caucuses across Maine's 16 counties has been going on since late January.
Results of a non-binding straw poll will be released by the state Republican Party around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday (0030 GMT Sunday).
Among the Republican contenders seeking to take on Democratic President Barack Obama in the November general election, only Romney, the former governor of nearby Massachusetts, and Paul, a US representative from Texas, have significant ground operations that can spearhead a get-out-the-vote effort.
Maine's population ranks 41st among the 50 US states, but the contest is key for Romney after he lost to former US Senator Rick Santorum in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado this week.