Oh my.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — It’s conventional wisdom in Republican circles here in South Carolina that if Mitt Romney wins the state’s primary this Saturday — having already won in Iowa and New Hampshire — he’ll be the GOP presidential nominee.

“If for some reason he’s not derailed here and Mitt Romney wins South Carolina — no one’s ever won all three — I think it should be over,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday. “That would be quite a testament to his ability as a candidate and a campaigner.”

But what if Romney did not actually win Iowa? That could change the calculation considerably. And there is a very real chance that the Republican Party of Iowa will announce this week that Rick Santorum, and not Romney, won the Iowa caucuses.

Results released on caucus night — actually, at 2 the next morning — showed Romney won by eight votes, 30,015 to Santorum’s 30,007. Many observers assumed that those results were final, especially when party officials said there would be no recount.

But the results were not final. Even though there is no provision for a recount in the party caucuses, state GOP rules do require that the results be certified, which is nearly the same thing. That certification process began the day after the caucuses and is expected to wrap up this week, yielding a final, official vote tally.

The final numbers will be different from those released on caucus night. One campaign source says the vote count as of midday Monday showed Santorum ahead by 80-something votes. If that number holds through certification of the last precincts, Santorum will win. Of course, there is always the possibility that some of the final precincts will contain discrepancies that put Romney back on top. It’s just not clear.

Keep reading…