Maine Democratic caucuses (UPDATE 2: CNN PROJECTS MAINE FOR OBAMA)

Elections 2008With O-mentum in full effect after last night’s three big wins, Democrats in Maine will be holding their caucuses this afternoon and evening to decide who gets a majority of delegates from their state. All totaled, 34 delegates are up for grabs in our nation’s most northeastern state. Bangor News reports on how the delegates will be divvied out:

In Maine Democrats’ system, 24 of the 34 delegates are pledged to particular candidates in proportion to the voting in the caucuses. Nine of those 24 emerge from caucuses in the 1st Congressional District and seven from the 2nd District caucuses. The other eight are at-large party leader and elected officials delegates.

The 10 unpledged delegates are made up of Maine Democratic Party notables.

Barack Obama has done very well in caucus states so far, but the Washington Post is predicting that the women’s vote may propel La Clinton to victory in Maine:

BANGOR, Maine, Feb. 9 — It is women like Linda Sinclair who have turned New England into a potentially tough playing field for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.).

Sinclair listened with rapt attention as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) spoke at a rally in Orono on Saturday morning, on the eve of Sunday’s Maine caucuses. She committed to Clinton three months ago, and while she planned to attend an afternoon Obama event in nearby Bangor, she did not expect to change her mind.

“She’s really in touch with the common person, even though she’s not one,” Sinclair, 58, said of Clinton. “I think they’re both very bright. But she’s more solid. I think he’s fluffy.”

Obama drew a huge crowd in Bangor on Saturday: 7,000 inside the local civic center and 3,000 more cheering in the slushy snow outside the front entrance. Clinton’s events were smaller, but she was clearly in her element, talking health-care policy to audiences of mostly older female voters, who have emerged as one of her staunchest support groups.

Traditionally Democratic women helped rescue Clinton’s presidential bid in New Hampshire by breaking her way in large numbers in the Jan. 8 primary. Five days earlier, Clinton placed third in the Iowa caucuses, behind Obama and former senator John Edwards (N.C.).

In Massachusetts, where Bill Clinton scored a big reelection margin in 1996, women also broke heavily for Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s primary. Obama had been endorsed by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry and by Gov. Deval L. Patrick, but it was the votes of women that gave Clinton one of her biggest Super Tuesday wins.

Maine should be friendly territory for Obama. Its voters are staunchly antiwar, and caucuses, which rely heavily on grass-roots organizing, have proved to be Obama’s strong suit. But Clinton campaign officials are optimistic that her message will resonate here.

Maine is “independent-minded and has strong female elected officials,” including two GOP senators, Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins, said Clinton adviser Karen Hicks. The candidate’s domestic policy proposals, including universal health coverage and middle-class tax cuts, are particularly well suited for the region, Hicks said, because “everyone feels attuned to those issues. You have a lot of women working two jobs, working on their feet, with their hands.”

Clinton’s habit of outlining her proposals in precise detail makes for long speeches but delivers the kind of substance that appeals to women, her supporters say. “Women really do care about substance,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), a Clinton backer. Likening politics to grocery shopping, Cantwell said, “Women want to hear the list.”

Check here later this evening for results as they come in.

Here are the Dem delegate counts, by CNN’s calculations.

What states are next on the primary/caucus schedule? Go here for the Dem states, and here for the GOP states.

Update 1 – 4:48 PM: Caucus-goers in Maine woke up to snow today, but the AP reports that in spite of it, heavy participation was/is expected.

The results are starting to come in, and this is what it looks like so far – Obama has a slight lead, w/ 11% reporting. A breakdown of results can be found here.

Update 2 – 6:59 PM: CNN is projecting Obama will win Maine, giving him 15 more delegates, and Hillary 9.

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