(DES MOINES, Iowa) — On Thursday morning, voters will finally know who won the Iowa caucuses.
Since Mitt Romney edged Rick Santorum by a mere eight votes on caucus night two weeks ago, Iowa’s counties and precincts have submitted forms to document their vote totals to the Iowa Republican Party, which has been helping them prepare the official precinct counts.
On caucus night, precinct officials phoned in results to an automated system after they’d counted the votes by hand. As the last precincts reported their votes, the tally swung back and forth into the wee hours of Jan. 4.
But Thursday’s results are final, and Santorum could be crowned Iowa’s real winner. An anonymous campaign source told The Washington Examiner Monday that Santorum led by around 80 votes at the time.
The Iowa GOP will announce the final results at 9:15 a.m. ET on Thursday.
By now, though, it may not matter whether Santorum officially won. The candidate and major media outlets have already declared Iowa an effective tie, and Iowa does not award delegates to any candidate. Unlike for most states, Iowa’s delegates to the Republican National Convention are free to support whichever candidate they choose, and the state will not select those delegates until June.
If Santorum wins Iowa in the official count, the boost will be emotional and psychological. That could help him as he heads into the South Carolina primary this Saturday if it legitimizes him in the eyes of any on-the-fence voters there. But it will not likely help him to raise money: While Santorum raised a flood of cash after his strong Iowa showing, he’s already missed out on any extra donations he would have attracted in the following days, had the Iowa GOP announced him the winner in the early morning hours of Jan. 4.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio