From the Des Moines Register, following up on information at this January 6 post which first made what is described below plausible:
THE RESULTS: Santorum finished ahead by 34 votes
MISSING DATA: 8 precincts’ numbers will never be certified
PARTY VERDICT: GOP official says, ‘It’s a split decision’
Rick Santorum – Final total: 29,839 Change: -168
Mitt Romney – Final total: 29,805 Change: -210
It’s a tie for the ages.
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.
… it’s tough to swallow the fact that there will always be a question mark hanging over this race, politics insiders said.
… Romney was ahead by 51 votes the weekend after the caucuses, Olsen said. On Tuesday night, Romney was up 24 votes. Then at noon Wednesday, Santorum was up by only three votes. The six precincts that happened to come in next boosted Santorum to a 34-vote lead.
At 5 p.m. Wednesday — the deadline for volunteers to get their official “Form E” paperwork with caucus results to Republican Party of Iowa headquarters in Des Moines — the back-and-forth ended with 1,766 precincts certified out of 1,774.
… Politics watchers said an accurate caucus count is important to the credibility of the event, but it would be unfair for anyone to spin the new outcome as embarrassing for Iowa.
HillBuzz, who warned us something this disgraceful might happen, gets a big “I told you so.”
Santorum has more votes, but the state GOP won’t declare a winner. What gutless tools.
This is a complete embarrassment, not to Iowa, but to the Iowa Republican Party, which, by failing to have a properly controlled process, betrayed the candidates who spent months in the state as well as those who attended the caucuses, all of whom trusted that the state’s party could and would count all the votes. Obviously, Rick Santorum should be extremely angry, not only at the lateness of the count changes, but also at the party’s unconscionable “both candidates won” position.
Why are the eight (conveniently?) “missing” precincts more likely to hold an advantage for Romney than Santorum? (See Update 3: Santorum had more votes in those precincts.)
Seriously, Iowa GOP, if you can’t control a 120,000-vote caucus process, the national party should — no, must — seriously look elsewhere for its first-in-the-nation event. You’re a national laughingstock.
UPDATE: What this means is that as far as I can recall, Mitt Romney STILL has NEVER won a significant early caucus or primary in a state where he doesn’t have past personal and political connections. His only two significant wins (yes I know, a judgmental evaluation) have been in January 2008 in Michigan, where he grew up and where his father George is a business legend, and last week in New Hampshire, which is adjacent to Massachusetts, where Romney governed from 2003 to 2007, and where hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire residents work.
UPDATE 2: Santorum reax —
Santorum’s campaign issued a news release declaring himself the winner of the Iowa caucuses.
“We’ve had two early state contests with two winners – and the narrative that Governor Romney and the media have been touting of ‘inevitability’ has been destroyed,” said Hogan Gidley, Santorum’s communications director.
UPDATE 3, Jan. 22: From an Associated Press report on Jan. 21 –
Offering no explanation, the Iowa Republican Party has declared Rick Santorum as winner of the Iowa caucuses, days after saying incomplete vote results precluded it from doing just that.
GOP State Chairman Matt Strawn and the party’s State Central Committee issued a statement late Friday naming the former Pennsylvania senator as the winner, “in order to clarify conflicting reports and to affirm the results” that were released Wednesday.
Unofficial election night results from the eight missing precincts gave Santorum 81 votes and Romney 46. If those results had been certified to state party officials by Wednesday’s deadline, Santorum’s lead in the final tally would have been 69 votes.
Knowing this, there’s no excuse why the Iowa GOP didn’t declare Santorum the winner several days ago.