It was, perhaps, the closest finish ever between two candidates in a presidential caucus.
At just before 3 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party went on television to announce the official result: Mitt Romney had beaten Rick Santorum by eight votes out of 60,022 cast for the two men.
So why no recount?
There is no legal provision for a recount in the Iowa caucuses, and, in fact, no legal need.
The Iowa caucus, despite its position at the center of the political universe every four years, is nothing more than a nonbinding preference poll that does not legally determine who gets the state’s 25 delegates to the Republican nominating convention.
Instead, the caucus results serve as a guide for the state’s Republicans as they hold local and state conventions during the upcoming year to elect their convention delegates. They can use the caucus as a guide (and they do) but they are not bound to do so.
As such, there is no legal reason anybody would want to challenge the outcome of the day.
The close vote — and the very, very late night — was reminiscent of the Florida results during the 2000 general election, when the country learned all about hanging chads and ovals that were not fully filled in.
But that election had legal consequences. The difference of a few votes in Florida would determine who won the state’s electoral votes, and with them, the presidency.
This time, the presidency did not hang by a thread as the votes were counted late into the night
But that does not mean that reporters and politicos gathered in Iowa for the culmination of another year-long battle in the state were not eager for a final, determinative result.