Mitt Romney got bad news Thursday.
The Iowa Republican Party announced that after reviewing the ballots cast in the Iowa Caucuses, it had reduced the votes cast for both Romney and second-place finished Rick Santorum. When it was all said and done, though, the second-place finisher became the first-place finisher, with Santorum winding up 34 votes ahead of Romney. But there's a catch. The ballots from eight precincts couldn't be found, and those precincts contain enough ballots to send the election in either direction.
So the Iowa Caucus will be called: a tie. Romney moved quickly to try and lessen the blow to his chances to become the party's presumptive nominee on Saturday, with a win in the South Carolina primary.
“The results from Iowa caucus night revealed a virtual tie,” Romney said in an e-mail to reporters, according to The New York Times. “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."
Santorum, though, moved to try to claim momentum with the victory.
“The history books will read that the winner of the Iowa caucuses in 2012 is Rick Santorum. That’s the bottom line,” Santorum adviser Hogan Gidley told the Times.
But if that's not enough bad news for Romney, he got another piece about the same time. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is prepared to drop out of the Republican primary in advance of a Thursday night debate, CNN reported.
Perry dropping out, though, isn't the worst new for Romney. It's who he is endorsing. According to the Associated Press, Perry endorsed Newt Gingrich, Romney's closest rival in South Carolina, in the same breath he announced the suspension of his campaign.
Many had thought Perry would drop out after a disappoiting finish in Iowa. In fact, he all but dead in his concession speech at the end of the night. The next morning, however, he took to Twitter to say he was heading to South Carolina to try to win the nomination.
Ultimately, however, terrible finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire proved too much for Perry to overcome.
The South Carolina primary, set for Saturday, could determine whether Romney is the presumptive favorite to be the Republican nominee, or if there's a long dogfight ahead between him and Gingrich and, or, Santorum.