And it looked like little more than an off-the-cuff, reflex reaction by King, who was already turning back to the wall as he offered his analysis on the Obama spin.

For all the people on its stage Tuesday night, CNN was wise enough to ride Blitzer and King often and hard down the homestretch of this historic night.

(UPDATE 2:20 a.m.) After signing off long enough to brush my teeth in hopes of going to bed, I am back online and watching one of the strangest election night endings I have ever seen.

Folks on the CNN set, led by Anderson Cooper, have been acting loopy for about an hour now. I can understand it, but it is not professional with so much at stake. Erin Burnett and Piers Morgan aren't helping matters.

But what really matters is that Blitzer and King, the adults on the stage, have two precinct workers named Edith and Carolyn on the phone live from Clinton County, and they are providing CNN with new figures that give Romney the victory over Santorum by a razor thin margin.

The plainspoken Clinton County chairwoman, who was apparently awakened by an enterprising CNN political director trying to track down missing votes, says her figures were submitted to the state about six hours earlier, which is even stranger.

The live phone call is nothing if not real and, let's just say, grassroots. One minute, the chairwoman is interrupting King as he tries to sort things out, the next she is going over the math of her vote count out loud and sounding more confused by the second.

But Blitzer and King are doing exactly what first-rate reporters do in a such a confusing situation: methodically, trying to get the facts straight. And the two women in Iowa are clearly trying to discharge their civic duty honorably -- not matter what time it is. Bravo for the folks on both ends of the phone line for trying to force the Iowa GOP to finally get its act together and announce a winner.

(Update 2:34 a.m.) The Iowa GOP chair just announced that Romney won by 8 votes.

What an amazing night of TV politics.