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Romney edges Santorum in race for Iowa delegates

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STEPHEN OHLEMACHER | January 4, 2012 03:13 AM EST | AP

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WASHINGTON — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won most of the delegates in the Iowa Republican caucuses Tuesday, edging former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Iowa's delegates to the national convention are not bound by the results of the caucuses. But an Associated Press analysis showed Romney would win 13 and Santorum would win 12, if there were no changes in their support as the campaign wears on.

Twenty-five delegates were at stake in the caucuses. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas came in third in the voting but was shut out of delegates because he didn't win any of Iowa's four congressional districts.

Romney and Santorum each won two congressional districts, and Romney was the statewide winner by a mere eight votes, according to final results announced early Wednesday by the Iowa GOP.

A total of 2,286 delegates are slated to go to the party's national convention. Support from a majority – 1,144 – is needed to claim the Republican nomination to take on incumbent President Barack Obama.

Iowa Republicans use a multi-step process to elect national delegates, starting with local caucuses. On Tuesday, caucus-goers elected delegates to county conventions, who in turn will elect delegates to congressional district conventions and the state party convention in June. These are the conventions where delegates to the GOP national convention in Tampa, Fla., are selected.

Each of the four congressional districts will elect three delegates to the national convention. They will also appoint two members to a slate committee, which will choose 13 additional delegates. The slate is voted on at the party's state convention in June.

The system puts a premium on getting the most votes in individual congressional districts. If a candidate's supporters can control a congressional district convention, they can choose national delegates and slate committee members who support their candidate.

In Iowa and other caucus states, the AP uses the results from local caucuses to calculate the number of national delegates each candidate will win, if the candidates maintain the same level of support throughout the process. The AP will update delegate totals, if support for the candidates changes.