DES MOINES (Reuters) - Two weeks after Iowa's caucuses, Mitt Romney will know for sure on Thursday whether he really did secure a narrow eight-vote victory over Rick Santorum in the first nominating contest of the 2012 presidential election.
The Republican Party of Iowa said on Wednesday it would publicly release the certified vote totals of the January 3 caucuses at 8:15 CST/9:15 EST on Thursday.
The state party announced after the voting on January 3 that Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, had defeated former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum by just eight votes, the closest vote total in the caucuses' history.
Romney solidified his status as the Republican front-runner after Iowa and his big victory in the New Hampshire primary a week later. Slipping behind Santorum in Iowa would blunt that status, but Romney still leads in polls in South Carolina, which holds its primary on Saturday and Florida, which votes on January 31.
In the unofficial Iowa count, Romney received 30,015 votes, or 24.6 percent, to Santorum's 30,007, or 24.5 percent. Ron Paul, a U.S. representative from Texas, came third at 21.4 percent, Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, was fourth at 13.3 percent and Texas Governor Rick Perry was fifth at 10.3 percent.
(Reporting By Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Doina Chiacu)