Did Rick Santorum Really Win Iowa?

Did Rick Santorum really win Iowa? The allegation has been leaking out for days now, but there are growing rumblings that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may not have won — which means he didn’t make history by winning Iowa and New Hampshire. Here’s part of John Avlon’s must-read-in-full post on The Daily Beast:

Did Rick Santorum win the Iowa caucus?

That’s what it looks like if numbers from a caucus in the town of Moulton, Appanoose County, are correctly counted when the official certification begins Wednesday night.

This not only would rewrite the election history of 2012 to date—it would invalidate the oft-repeated line that Mitt Romney is the only candidate to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. It would stop the inevitability narrative in its tracks.

This possibility has the Iowa state GOP under new scrutiny as they begin the official certification process, which they have promised to complete by the end of the week.

The national media to date has largely dismissed this story—which was first reported by local Des Moines station KCCI—apparently choosing to trust the state GOP’s initial off-the-record assurances that the story had zero credibility.

But multiple sources—including local county GOP officials—have now confirmed that the initial precinct numbers from Moulton were incorrect. And even the state party is no longer contesting the fact that at least 20 votes were misallocated to Mitt Romney, casting his eight-vote margin in question unless an even larger number of errors breaks his way.

Here’s what we know happened.

Go to the link to read Avlon’s original reporting on this story which adds to the feeling that sometime in the future it could be announced that Romney didn’t win Iowa after all.

And does it matter? Avlon:

It does matter a lot. Already, Romney’s electability narrative is centered on the argument that he is the only candidate to have ever won both Iowa and New Hampshire—causing some commentators to say that the nomination battle is all but over, despite only two states having held elections. It takes 1,143 delegates to win the Republican nomination, and to date Romney has just over 20, so the sanguine sense that the Iowa delegate count is likely to remain the same even if the popular vote count changes doesn’t cut it on the credibility front.

Media momentum matters disproportionately in the current system of nominating presidents that we have in place. If the wrong man is declared the winner, even temporarily, it has wide-reaching implications that can’t be entirely undone when the record is corrected. And if Romney is still declared the ultimate winner—as state party officials seem unsettlingly sure he will be despite the votes still coming in—it will be because even greater inaccuracies were found in his favor, doing little to increase confidence in the Iowa caucus after months of anticipatory coverage.

If this coupled with Romney flat-footedness in his response to the Bain Capital charges by his foes, his bungling of his income tax return issue, and his comment that he didn’t make all that much from speaking fees (just love $300,000 per speech — I and MANY Americans wish we could make as “little” money as that in a year..) and it could suggest Romney will go into the general (if he is nominated) a flawed candidate (the longing for Jeb Bush and Chris Christie will continue). Will Obama & Co have to bring on extra staff to hand the slew of campaign ads they could turn out given the material Romney is inadvertently giving them?

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