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Florida Primary: What to Watch For Tonight

Most polls will be closing in Florida at 7 p.m. ET, with some of the Panhandle counties not closing until 8 p.m. ET. As you would expect, The Fix is chomping at the bit to find out what will happen in tonight's Republican primary showdown.

To make the time pass more easy until we have results, here's a viewer's guide for those looking for the key battlegrounds and storylines in tonight's voting:

The Fix asked several unaffiliated Republican strategists who know Florida well to offer up some key counties that will comprise the central battleground between Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Here's the list of key counties:

* Orlando area: Orange, Seminole, Lake and Volusia

* Jacksonville area: DuVal, Clay and St. John's

* Tampa/St. Petersburg area: Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Pasco

* South Florida: Lee and Collier

Bored with the presidential horse-race coverage? Impress your friends and vanquish your enemies by insisting your real focus tonight is on whether "Amendment One" passes. The amendment, which would cut property taxes throughout the state, is a major point of contention between the parties. Gov. Charlie Crist (R) is pushing the measure and helped raise the more than $4 million spent by pro-One forces. Polling indicates the "yes" side could take the 60 percent needed to institute the plan, but much depends on how many Democrats turn out to vote in what is a wholly symbolic presidential primary for them.

Don't forget that early voting began in Florida more than two weeks ago -- on Jan. 14. According to figures provided by the state's Republican Party, more than 289,000 Republicans and 275,500 Democrats had voted early. Combine that with the 232,000 GOPers who voted absentee and you have more than 521,000 Republicans who had already voted before the polls even opened today. Given the large number of early and absentee votes, what happened in the campaign over the last two weeks could have as much impact as how it has played out in the final 48 hours or so in the state.

The Fix is covering the primary results live over here.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 29, 2008; 6:08 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Is Winning Florida a True Boost for Clinton?

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