An electoral official holds ballots to distribute as voters register during republican caucues at a school  in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 3, 2012. Iowa fires the first shot of the 2012 battle for the White House on Tuesday with a keenly watched but unpredictable vote on which Republican should challenge President Barack Obama in November. With half of this heartland state's voters still up for grabs, frontrunner Mitt Romney, 64, was locked in a neck-and-neck race with Representative Ron Paul and former senator Rick Santorum in the party's first nominating test. AFP Photo/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Iowa caucus count unresolved
02:49 - Source: CNN

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Story highlights

NEW: Santorum says he learned of the revised result before dawn Thursday

Santorum finishes with a 34-vote advantage over Mitt Romney in Iowa

Romney calls Santorum, but campaigns differ on whether it was to concede

Romney was thought to have won the caucuses by eight votes

CNN  — 

Rick Santorum finished the Iowa Republican caucuses 34 votes ahead of Mitt Romney, but results from several precincts are missing and the full actual results may never be known, according to a final certified tally released Thursday by the Iowa GOP.

The new numbers show 29,839 votes for Santorum and 29,805 votes for Romney, according to the party.

The initial returns from Iowa gave Romney a razor-thin eight-vote margin of victory over Santorum, reinforcing the former Massachusetts governor’s frontrunner status and giving him a major momentum boost heading into the New Hampshire primaries.

Romney went on to win New Hampshire easily, seemingly making him the first non-incumbent Republican in modern history to win the first two contests of the cycle.

Now history is being rewritten, casting a shadow over the first-in-the-nation caucuses and potentially shaking up the GOP race two days before the critical South Carolina primary.

Santorum said on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” that the victory, while delayed, was sweet.

“We feel very, very good that we not only won, but that we …. pulled off a huge upset,” the former Pennsylvania senator said in the interview to be broadcast later Thursday.

Romney called Santorum after the revised result came out, according to both campaigns. However, they differed on whether Romney called to concede, as claimed by Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley.

A top Romney staffer disputed that any concession occurred, while campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said: “Gov. Romney called Sen. Santorum to congratulate him on the Iowa results.”

In the CNN interview, Santorum said he got an e-mail before 5 a.m. Thursday informing him of his 34-vote victory in the certified results. He also said his margin of victory would be higher if uncertified results from other precincts were included.

“Either way you tally it, we were successful. And we feel very good about that,” Santorum said, adding his campaign is working to “continue that momentum and take it here to South Carolina now and off to Florida.”

Eventually, he said, the Republican presidential race will narrow to a lone conservative contender against the more moderate Romney. Asked if he was disappointed that the Iowa results took so long to certify, possibly denying him momentum in last week’s New Hampshire primary, Santorum said: “I don’t blame Iowa.”

“If you think about it, it moved from eight votes to 34. Usually in an election, that kind of change is insignificant,” he said.

Gidley earlier told CNN that the revised result was “exciting because the narrative for a long time has been that Mitt Romney was 2-0.”