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Did Santorum actually beat Romney in Iowa?
A vote-counter claims Mitt was mistakenly awarded 20 extra votes in one precinct — which would potentially make Rick Santorum the caucus' big winner
 
A 28-year-old Iowa vote-counter claims a tallying error by the state GOP gave Rick Santorum an eight-vote loss in the caucuses instead of the victory he deserved.
A 28-year-old Iowa vote-counter claims a tallying error by the state GOP gave Rick Santorum an eight-vote loss in the caucuses instead of the victory he deserved.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Mitt Romney edged Rick Santorum by a mere eight votes to win Tuesday's Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa... right? Maybe not. Vote-counter Edward True, 28, says an error in his precinct gave Romney 20 more votes than he deserved, after the state GOP allegedly botched its recording of the precinct's vote tally. "That right there says Rick Santorum won Iowa," True said. "Not Mitt Romney." Party officials say they'll verify everything before certifying the results in two weeks, but have no reason to doubt their numbers. Did a mistake tilt the Iowa results, and, in the process, the race for the GOP nomination?

It's certainly possible: True says Romney deserved only two of his Appanoose County precinct's 53 votes, instead of the 22 he was awarded, says Nate Silver at The New York Times. Overall, Romney "performed very weakly" in this "rural and conservative" county, winning two votes in one precinct, four in another, and zero in another. True's story sounds at least plausible. And when the margin of victory is eight votes, a miscount in even one precinct really can turn the tables.
"Iowan casts doubt on winner of caucus"

But does it even matter? Santorum has already said this error doesn't matter — and he's right, says Jordan Teicher at Business Insider. The surging conservative knows the vote was essentially a tie, no matter who wound up a handful of votes ahead. "Santorum's nonchalance is further proof that the impression that he won in Iowa is more important than the actual numbers." But if he can't "unite the party" behind him in New Hampshire and beyond, his Iowa surge, "whether he won or placed second, may be irrelevant."
"Oops? Romney may have 'won' Iowa thanks to a typo"

Yes. It matters quite a bit: This changes nothing in New Hampshire, "which Romney will win easily," says Michael J.W. Stickings at The Reaction. "But it would give Santorum a small boost to be able to say he won Iowa," upsetting a "frontrunner with the elites behind him, a massive ground campaign, and a ton of money." That "could narrow the gap just enough to give Santorum some extra hope heading down to South Carolina," and make Romney's upcoming New Hampshire win "a tad less triumphant."
"Counting error means Santorum may have won Iowa caucuses"

 

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