The Republican party of Iowa has finished its recount of the January 3rd Iowa caucuses and the certified final results show Rick Santorum came out ahead by 34 votes. So he ‘won’, right?
Well, not according to the state GOP. According to the state party it’s a “split decision” or a “tie.”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 fo 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.
Of course, at this point, we’re down to a candidate’s ex-wife’s tell-all interview and the South Carolina primary as what it all hinges on. And of course, tonight’s debate, the 89th.