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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

5 things to watch in the 2012 election

President Barack Obama phoned Mitt Romney on Wednesday to congratulate him on clinching the Republican nomination. For awhile during the volatile primary season, it looked iffy whether the former Massachusetts governor would win the necessary 1,144 delegates before the convention in Tampa, but he did with an overwhelming victory Tuesday in the Texas primary.

Now we have a presidential race that could go either way. Obama leads Romney by just 2 percentage points in the average of recent national polls compiled by RealClearPolitics. Republicans eager to unseat Obama are coalescing behind their nominee and in stark contrast to four years ago, it's likely Romney and other GOP groups will wind up outspending Democrats.

Nobody can predict with any confidence what will happen in 160 days, but here are five things we'll be watching.

Column by Times political editor Adam C. Smith here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 9:40pm]

    

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