DES MOINES, Iowa — The votes that helped put Mitt Romney over the top in Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses arrived only after a county Republican party chairwoman was woken up in a panic after midnight, local GOP officials said Tuesday.
Votes in the last precinct outstanding out of 1,774 statewide — the second ward, second precinct in Clinton County — were the last to be tabulated early Wednesday morning, and wound up giving Romney an eight-vote victory in the caucus over Rick Santorum.
And that made for a memorable night for Edith Pfeffer, the chairwoman of the Clinton County Republican Party.
Pfeffer said she went to her caucus on Tuesday night and thought the election ran smoothly. She said her daughter asked her around 10 p.m. why one Clinton precinct had not reported its results. Pfeffer said she knew they had been called in by the precinct chair at 7:48 p.m.
At 11:30, Pfeffer said she got a call from the Romney campaign asking what the figures were for that missing precinct. Pfeffer said she gave them the figures — 51 votes for Romney, 33 for Rick Santorum and a total of 143 cast — and then went to bed in a room without a phone, thinking “everything was all well under control.”
But she said that at about 12:30 p.m., she heard someone pounding on her windows and her front door and ringing her door bell. Startled, she saw her friend Caroline Tallett, another local GOP activist, outside in her yard. “I thought, ‘What in the world is going on?’” Pfeffer said.
By then, the eyes of the state and the nation were fixed on the astonishingly close election between Romney and Santorum. Tallett said she was at home watching CNN waiting for the results when she was contacted by a state party official, who said they needed the missing results as soon as possible.
Pfeffer said she’s still not sure exactly why the votes were not recorded, but believes it was “some type of computer glitch.” She insisted the precinct chair called them into the state party and filled out all the appropriate forms. She said the delayed results should not be seen as an embarrassment, because “we worked very hard to do everything correctly.”
Asked her reaction to Clinton County helping deliver the caucus victory to Romney, she laughed.
“It is what it is. We’re a very loyal Republican county and our people came and they expressed themselves tonight and this was the vote in this particular precinct,” she said.