Santorum Claims Belated Win in Iowa

He Beat Romney by 34 Votes, Overturning 8-Vote Deficit

By Forward Staff

Published January 19, 2012.

Remember the Iowa caucuses? Well, there’s a new winner in Des Moines.

Rick Santorum
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Rick Santorum

Republican Rick Santorum claimed a delayed-reaction victory after a final count showed him ahead of frontrunner Mitt Romney by 34 votes.

The original count on the January 3 election night showed Romney on top by 8 votes. But certified results found Santorum received 29,839 votes, while Romney got 29,805 votes.

Votes from eight out of 1,774 precincts couldn’t be found.

Santorum, who inexplicably seemed to accept his razor-thin loss on election night, quickly moved to claim his late victory in the Hawkeye State.

The New York Times reported that, in a Twitter message to his supporters Thursday morning, Mr. Santorum wrote: “Thank you Iowa for the win! …. Game on!”

Romney sought to downplay the switcheroo, saying everyone always knew it was a virtual tie.

“The results from Iowa caucus night revealed a virtual tie,” Romney told CNN. “I would like to thank the Iowa Republican Party for their careful attention to the caucus process, and we once again recognize Rick Santorum for his strong performance in the state.”

Iowa Republican officials tried to put the best face on the embarassing snafu, saying the race was really just too close to call. They failed to explain why they ever endorsed Romney as the winner in the first place, given the miniscule original margin.

Bragging rights aside, the shift of a couple of dozen votes has potential to change the narrative of the GOP race, if Romney’s opponents can communicate it to voters.

One key talking point for Romney has been his win in the first two contests, a feat that would have been unprecedented for a non-incumbent president.

Now he can no longer make the claim to be “running the table.” And if he stumbles in South Carolina this weekend, that race might start to look less like a blip on the screen and more like a harbinger of a long, hard race extending well into the spring.

To give an off-season baseball analogy, Romney could go from batting 1.000 to hitting .333. Still not bad, but a reason to stay tuned till the ninth inning rolls around.



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