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GOP Officials: Santorum Finished Ahead in Iowa After All

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"a virtual tie"

COLUMBIA, S.C. (The Blaze/AP) -- Republican officials say the final count of the Iowa caucuses puts Rick Santorum ahead of Mitt Romney by 34 votes, but no winner will be declared because votes from eight precincts are missing.

Romney, the front-runner in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, initially had been considered the winner by 8 votes in the event's closest finish ever.

Iowa Republicans are to announce the tally Thursday morning.

Republican officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to pre-empt the announcement, said Santorum would end up with 29,839 votes to Romney's 29,805.

Foxnews.com has more:

"It's a split decision," the executive director of the Iowa GOP Chad Olsen said.

Officials discovered inaccuracies in 131 precincts, with changes in one precinct alone shifting the vote by 50.

Even before the new results were officially announced, Mitt Romney released a statement.

"The results from Iowa caucus night revealed a virtual tie. I would like to thank the Iowa Republican Party for their careful attention to the caucus process, and we once again recognize Rick Santorum for his strong performance in the state," he said. "The Iowa caucuses, with record turnout, were a great start to defeating President Obama in Iowa and elsewhere in the general election."

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