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Iowa Republicans to call caucus result split decision

New certified totals from the Iowa caucuses reveal Rick Santorum actually finished ahead of Mitt Romney by 34 votes. Results from the night of the voting had Romney ahead by eight votes. NBC's Chuck Todd reports.

The Iowa Republican Party will certify this month's presidential caucuses as a split decision between former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, citing missing data from eight precincts, the Des Moines Register reported on Thursday.

The party had previously awarded the contest to Romney, with an eight vote margin. The official certified caucus results are due out Thursday at 8:15 a.m. local time (1415 GMT).

The Register said the new count put Santorum ahead by 34 votes. However, results from any one of the eight precincts with "missing data" could hold an advantage for Romney, the Register reported.

"It's a split decision," the newspaper said, citing a party official in the state. There are too many holes in the certified total from the caucuses to know for certain who won, it said.

GOP officials discovered inaccuracies in 131 precincts, although not all the changes affected Romney or Santorum, the newspaper reported.

"The results from Iowa caucus night revealed a virtual tie," Romney said in a statement early Thursday from Boston.

"I would like to thank the Iowa Republican Party for their careful attention to the caucus process, and we once again recognize Rick Santorum for his strong performance in the state.

"The Iowa caucuses, with record turnout, were a great start to defeating President Obama in Iowa and elsewhere in the general election."