Mitt Romney won Maine's presidential preference voting contest on Saturday in the Republican Party's municipal caucuses, which were heavily attended across the state.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, had a little over half of the vote with about two-thirds of the towns holding caucuses reporting. John McCain worked to keep his vote above 20 percent, trailed by Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee.
The nonbinding votes, the first step toward electing 18 Maine delegates to the Republican National Convention, were taking place in public schools, Grange halls, fire stations and town halls across the state.
Despite a sleet storm the night before that left much of the state coated with slush and ice, cars jammed the parking lot outside an Augusta elementary school where Kennebec County municipalities were caucusing.
Signs promoting the candidates were jabbed in snowbanks, and inside the school gym speeches were being given on behalf of candidates as around 300 party members listened and occasionally broke into cheers.
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.
Republican caucuses were being held in about 410 Maine municipalities, most on Saturday. A few dozen towns, especially in northern Maine's Aroostook County, held caucuses Friday, and a few more were set for Sunday and later this month.
The Maine Democrats hold their presidential preference votes at municipal caucuses on Feb. 10.