GOP vote count in Iowa still unresolved. Eight precincts have missing votes.
by Jennifer Jacobs
January 19, 2012
There are too many holes in the certified totals from the Iowa caucuses to know for certain who won, but Rick Santorum wound up with a 34-vote advantage.
Results from eight precincts are missing — any of which could hold an advantage for Mitt Romney — and will never be recovered and certified, Republican Party of Iowa officials told The Des Moines Register on Wednesday.
GOP officials discovered inaccuracies in 131 precincts, although not all the changes affected the two leaders. Changes in one precinct alone shifted the vote by 50 — a margin greater than the certified tally.
The certified numbers: 29,839 for Santorum and 29,805 for Romney. The turnout: 121,503.
It’s not a surprise that the ultra-thin gap of eight votes on caucus night didn’t hold up, but it’s tough to swallow the fact that there will always be a question mark hanging over this race, politics insiders said.
The news comes at a pivotal point — two days before the South Carolina primary, the third state to vote in the nominating process, and just before another big debate tonight. Romney is under attack from all sides, and the other GOP hopefuls are struggling to convince voters that they are viable alternatives to the former Massachusetts governor.
Expect the Santorum campaign to try to leverage today’s news into extra momentum, strategists said.
“It will be a story and Santorum will seize upon it, but it won’t change the current political narrative,” said John Stineman, an Iowa Republican operative.
Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, is still battling Newt Gingrich, and to a lesser degree Rick Perry, for the conservative base, Stineman said.
Even if Santorum had been the big headline on Jan. 4 as the Iowa winner, “it certainly wouldn’t have changed how New Hampshire came out, nor (Romney’s) status as the national front-runner,” Stineman said.
Romney has already soaked up the benefits of his declared win. With the Iowa caucuses, the prize is the immediate media attention and the credibility bestowed on the winner. But history now has an asterisk: It’s not clear whether Romney is the first Republican since 1976 to win in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
Over the last two weeks, the vote total seesawed wildly — just as it did on caucus night.