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Romney Beats Santorum in Iowa Caucuses by 8 Votes Out of 122,000 Cast. CNN Makes Middle of Night Call to Local Iowa Precinct to Find Out Who Won. They Got Edith and Carolyn on the Phone, Who Were Fun, Exuberant Duo on Live TV and Instant Hits on Twitter

Jan 4, 2012  •  Post A Comment

By Chuck Ross

What a night! Mitt Romney squeaked out a victory over Rick Santorum in the Iowa Republican Caucuses by 8 votes out of about 122,000 total votes cast.

Romney received 30,015 votes to Santorum’s 30,007. Ron Paul came in third with 26,186 votes.

As it turned very late on the East Coast–after 2 a.m.–a winner had not yet been determined. At one point, with 99% of the vote counted, Romney was ahead by a single vote.

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With the vote stuck at 99% for some time, the Republican Party in Iowa let it be known that it was waiting to hear from a single precinct in Clinton County in eastern Iowa.

That’s when CNN political director Mark Preston sprang into action. He made a few phone calls and soon Wolf Blitzer was making a live, on-air phone call to Iowa. He got two women on the phone, Carolyn Tallett, the president of Clinton County Republican Women, and Edith Pfeffer, the Clinton County Iowa GOP Chair. It was after 1 a.m. in Iowa.

The following few minutes were as fun and compelling as live TV gets, as these two lady live wires went about explaining what the delay was in counting the vote. According to the ladies, the precinct in question–Ward 2, second precinct–had called in its results to the state Republican election headquarters at 7:48 p.m., Central Time. But somehow those results were misplaced and after midnight, Iowa time, Carolyn was woken up by a state Repulbican official looking for the election results. Carolyn then went over to Edith’s house and woke her up.

At one point, as John King was explaining the descrepancy in vote tallies from what the women were saying and what the state Republican Party was saying, Edith indignantly interrupted him with "What do you mean the numbers don’t match?"

King then patiently explained that he wasn’t questioning the numbers from the two ladies, but from the state Republican Party.

With the numbers they received from Edith and Carolyn–who quickly started "trending" on Twitter–CNN was able to prognosticate that Romney had actually won the election. At the time the official vote tally had Santorum ahead by 4 votes.

At 2:32 a.m., ET, the Iowa state Republican Party was ready to make the official announcement of who had won the Iowa Republican Caucuses. CNN cut to the venue, but, as Murphy’s Law would dictate, it couldn’t get any sound.

Later, CNN contributor James Carville quipped that CNN should win some investigative journalism award for finding Edith and Carolyn and finding out what had happened.

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