That’s all that separated Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum when the dust settled on the GOP Iowa caucuses, after what was undoubtedly the closest Hawkeye State contest in memory. The 122,255 caucus-goers awarded 30,015 votes to Romney and 30,007 to Santorum.

The Santorum–Romney battle was a match-up Tuesday night that could hardly have been imagined just weeks ago when Santorum was polling in the single digits.

For most of Tuesday night, the two were in a virtual tie with Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who finished third.

While Romney emerged with a razor-thin victory, Santorum will be considered the ultimate winner. He outperformed everyone’s expectations, catapulting himself from single-digit political purgatory into a leading role through a methodical campaign schedule that took him to all of Iowa’s 99 counties long before his competitors.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who last month was the favorite to win the contest in the Hawkeye State, placed fourth.

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