In an example of just how terribly corrupt Republican party officials are, the official, certified results of the Iowa caucus are finally in and Rick Santorum actually won by 23 votes. The Iowa GOP has decided to call it a tie instead. Josh Marshall:
The rationale for calling this a tie, according to the Des Moines Register, which has the story as an exclusive, is that 8 precincts’ numbers are lost permanently and will never be certified. So in practice it’s a tie, too close to call, etc. That of course probably applies to pretty much all recount type elections — Bush v Gore, maybe Franken v. Coleman, etc. The vagueries of the process itself is too imprecise in some sense to tell you who ‘won’ in some Platonic (the other sense of the word) sense. But in normal elections where the people holding it aren’t deeply invested in not letting one guy win we have a name for that kind of situation — Rick Santorum won.
Of course, it’s unlikely to do Santorum much good at this point. And he probably just was never a good enough, or viable enough, candidate to have truly shifted his fortunes even if it had come out on caucus night. But it’s worth speculating how the news would have affected Romney’s momentum. A win is a win, as the state GOP of Iowa seems to have a hard time now accepting. And even though it was razor close, Romney came out of Iowa with a win. And after a rout in New Hampshire he had two ‘wins’. And together those shifted where the race was pretty decisively by mid-January, finally forcing a lot of Republicans with Mitt-commitment issues to get on board.
In other words, the call in Iowa then made Mitt all but inevitable now. It’ll be interesting to see how the Republicans react to this on the road. If Mitt wins Saturday, it’s over. But would he have done worse if Santorum had been rightfully declared the winner in Iowa? The Iowa GOP is saying that several precincts lost their votes so there’s no way to know if Santorum’s 23 vote lead is really true:
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.
We’ll never know. Republicans aren’t terribly interested in facts, just results. Remember that the next time they play the ACORN/UNION THUGS/BLACK PANTHERS!!!!11!!one! card and say Democrats are cheaters.[UPDATE] To clarify, 1) I’m all for a GOP primary process that is as long and painful for the GOP as possible (for them, but admittedly that sucks for all the rest of us too) and 2) Can you imagine the howling if this happened at a Democratic party caucus?