BREAKING NEWS: Santorum Wins Iowa Caucus

UPDATE 2:50 EST: CNN reported that Mitt Romney called Rick Santorum about the Iowa results. Santorum's campaign it was a concession, but Romney's camp would not confirm this.

Major news outlets are reporting this morning that GOP Rick Santorum has garnered more votes in the January 3 Iowa caucus than the previously declared winner Mitt Romney. Iowa officials have certified the vote and declared that Santorum won the caucus by 34 votes. Romney's camp immediately called the caucus result a "virtual tie" and political scientists have already weighed in, saying that the current result is insignificant.

In the meantime, a Santorum campaign staffer just said on CNN that the result was a "big win" for the former Pennsylvania senator.

 

Here are excerpts breaking news reports from USA Today:

The Iowa Republican Party this morning posted the certified results from the Jan. 3 vote, which were first reported by the Des Moines Register.

While Santorum is officially the winner, political observers say the loser could be the Iowa caucuses.

"This underscores the amateur and volunteer nature of the way the caucuses are run," said Dennis Goldford, a political scientist at Drake University in Des Moines.

"Amateur can be fine but amateurism is something else," he said in a telephone interview with USA TODAY. "The caucuses are bearing a weight that they were never designed to do. This does furnish additional ammunition to those who criticize the impact of the caucuses."

Steffen Schmidt, a political scientist at Iowa State University, said the caucuses are "mostly a media event.

"No delegates are selected," he told USA TODAY in an e-mail. "It's like a very extensive public opinion poll. Yet, we give it huge significance because it is the first event. The probability that Rick Santorum won and not Mitt Romney made no real difference because Romney was the untouchable front-runner in New Hampshire already."

Romney seemed braced for the news, issuing a news release this morning. "The results from Iowa caucus night revealed a virtual tie," he said.