The Iowa Republican Party will announce the official results of its caucuses Thursday morning, delivering the final word on whether Mitt Romney actually won the first contest of the GOP presidential primary season.
Final vote tallies from each of the state’s 1,774 precincts were due at 5 p.m. Wednesday, two weeks after the Jan. 3 caucuses. The party will review the findings, and reveal its final tally at 9:15 a.m. ET on Thursday.
Romney was declared the victor of the caucuses in the early morning hours after the election, but he defeated second-place finisher Rick Santorum by just eight votes. The virtual tie sparked speculation that when the official vote totals from each of the precincts were submitted, Santorum might come out on top.
The ex-senator himself said earlier this week he had a “50-50” chance of emerging victorious in the Hawkeye State.
If that happens, Santorum will receive fresh ammunition for his argument that he has the best chance to emerge as the consensus conservative alternative to Romney, a case he is now trying to make in South Carolina. It also denies Romney a chance to be the first non-incumbent GOP presidential candidate to win Iowa and New Hampshire back-to-back, a feat that helped fuel his momentum toward the party’s presidential nomination