The Iowa Republican Party has declared Rick Santorum the official winner of the Iowa caucus but reports of several missing precinct voting results, which were thought to have benefited Mitt Romney, have cast a shadow over the ballot.
The eight precincts' numbers will never be certified or recovered by the state's GOP in what will be a timely reminder for election officials about the importance of keeping tight security.
Chad Olsen, the party's executive director, said: "As far as party leaders could tell, no Form Es [the form that individual precincts must register to be counted], ever existed for the eight missing precincts. There's no chance those eight will be certified now," he said.
"It's a split decision. Both candidates essentially tied."
Santorum beat frontrunner Romney by 34 votes.
"It will be a story and Santorum will seize upon it, but it won't change the current political narrative," said John Steinman, an Iowa Republican operative.
In reality, however, with Iowa making a tiny proportion of the overall 4,000 delegates elected to the national convention, the result is more process than substance for Santorum and should not worry Romney too much who sealed a huge victory in the New Hampshire primary a week after the Iowa vote.
Romney is believed to be beginning to feel the heat with the news that Rick Perry endorsed Newt Gingrich as Republican presidential in what should create a very interesting poll result in South Carolina on Saturday.