Last updated: January 4, 2012 - 9:55am
From their respective television studios in Midtown Manhattan on Jan 3, the MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow and the Fox News commentator Karl Rove looked to Iowa and saw the same thing: a Republican race that was “tight as a tick.”
For a few hours on Tuesday night, the nation’s television anchors and political reporters were transfixed by which candidates would finish in fifth and sixth place in the Iowa caucuses — not because they had projected the first-place finisher, but because they couldn’t. The race between three Republicans — Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum — appeared at first to be a three-way tie, far too close to call, delighting the people who had been promising viewers and readers a dramatic start to the 2012 voting season. “We have no idea when we’ll be able to call this,” said Ms. Maddow, sounding almost giddy during the 10 p.m. hour of her broadcast. “It’s great.” Chuck Todd, the political director for NBC News and an anchor for MSNBC, indicated that the network would have to wait for every vote to be counted. At one point in the evening, when about 48 percent of precincts had reported their vote totals, ABC said that just seven votes separated Mr. Santorum and Mr. Romney. Later, when 96 percent of precincts had reported and 113 votes separated them, The Des Moines Register called the two “deadlocked.” Most newspapers and late-night local newscasts were put to bed without the final results for the night.
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