Iowa Caucus 2012 The Closest Ever, Voter Turnout Breaks Record

01/04/2012 10:53 am ET | Updated Jan 04, 2012

The 2012 Iowa caucus will go down in history as the closest competition since the state claimed its first-in-the-nation status in 1972. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney beat Rick Santorum by a just 8 votes, 24.6 percent to 24.5 percent, in a race that extended into the early hours of Wednesday morning. Romney won a total of 30,015 votes to Santorum's 30,007 votes.

Before Romney's close victory, the record was held by the 1980 Iowa caucus, in which George H.W. Bush beat Ronald Reagan by just two points, 31.6 percent to 29.5 percent.

Bush ended up losing the GOP nomination to Reagan, who went on to win the presidency against incumbent Jimmy Carter.

This year's caucus also set a record for turnout, with 122,255 total votes cast. The previous record for the GOP caucus was 119,000 votes, set in 2008.

So what does it mean? Though a crucial indicator of a candidate's momentum, the Iowa caucus doesn't have the best track record for accurately predicting the eventual general election winner.

Click through the slideshow to check out the winners and losers of past Iowa caucuses:

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