It's All Politics
12:31 am
Sat January 21, 2012

Iowa GOP Officially Declares Santorum The Iowa Caucus Winner

Rick Santorum is officially the winner of the Jan. 3 Iowa Republican presidential caucus. The state Republican Party reversed itself from a previous assertion that it would not declare one, given problems at eight precincts, as The Des Moines Register reported.

In a news release late Friday, the party said it called the race "in order to clarify conflicting reports and to affirm the results released Jan. 18 by the Republican Party of Iowa."

The preliminary count on the Jan. 3 caucus put former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney ahead by eight votes, as NPR reported that night. Later, the party said there was no official winner, though a recanvassing of the votes showed Santorum won by 34 votes.

We will update with more as we have it from NPR's Don Gonyea.

Update at 1:07 a.m. ET. Unexpected Confusion

Gonyea tells NPR's Newscast desk that the email was sent shortly before midnight ET. He says that just over two weeks after the actual caucus, when the votes had been certified, the state GOP "essentially called it a draw" between Romney and Santorum because of missing votes. He adds:

"This presidential campaign was already strange because of all the ups and downs — candidates taking turns being the front-runner and then being knocked down and then another one rising. But no one expected that the results of the Iowa caucuses, the very first contest, would be talked about amid such confusion for so long."

The news comes just hours before polls open for the South Carolina primary, the third Republican presidential contest.

Update at 2:13 a.m. ET. Looking Toward South Carolina

A blog post from Politico on the decision gives a glimpse into what this could mean in the context of tonight's primary:

If Mitt Romney wins South Carolina [Saturday] night, this outcome becomes less significant, since Santorum did not get a visible bounce from what was initially called as an eight-vote loss. But if Romney loses to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina, he will be one for three in the early states as he heads into Florida, and each state will have had a different victor.

And it will give Santorum, who has struggled to gain traction in South Carolina but who did have a strong debate Thursday night, a reason to keep fighting past Saturday night.

Romney won the New Hampshire primary, the second contest, on Jan. 10.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.