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The final piece of the electoral map is now in place. After a four-day count, President Obama has won Florida's 29 electoral votes with a squeaker of a margin. With nearly 100 percent of the votes in, the Associated Press reported on Saturday that Obama had 50 percent to GOP challenger Mitt Romney's 49.1 percent. The difference, according to the Florida secretary of state, was nearly 740,000 votes. Only a few military and overseas ballots are believed to be uncounted. Florida's outcome was not crucial to putting Obama over the Electoral College edge -- he had already secured 303 votes on Election Day, well above the 270 needed to win the presidency. But it can now be written in the history books: The final electoral tally for 2012 was 332 votes for Obama, 206 for Romney. The four-day delay pales in comparison to the weeks-long drama in the state in 2000, when Florida's razor-thin margin unleashed an army of lawyers, a media frenzy and, ultimately, intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court. But residents in the state last week were nevertheless chagrined over the state's many voting dysfunctions.
TRIBUNE WASHINGTON BUREAU
Look for a rolling transition of Obama's Cabinet:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she's leaving as soon as she can. Possible replacements: Sen. John Kerry and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, whose star appears to have dimmed a bit after the uproar over Benghazi.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's departure has sparked chatter about replacements, from White House chief of staff Jack Lew to former Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. There's been talk about choosing someone from the finance world, such as Suzanne Nora Johnson, former vice chairman of Goldman Sachs.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta looks to be leaving after the fiscal cliff gets sorted out. Those mentioned for his job include Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter and Michele Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense for policy.
Attorney General Eric Holder is said to be on his way out.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is looking to replace Holder, whose departure timetable is unclear.
Would like to stay: Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.
Likely to stay: Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Labor's Hilda Solis and the VA's Eric Shinseki.
May stay: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood -- only Republican in the Cabinet -- and Interior's Ken Salazar.
On the fence: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
Likely to leave: Energy Secretary Steven Chu and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Top GOP officials have begun an exhaustive review to figure out what went so wrong and how to fix it.
Party leaders already had planned to poll voters in battleground states in anticipation of a Mitt Romney victory -- to immediately begin laying the groundwork for midterm congressional elections and a Romney 2016 reelection bid.
But as they watched one state after another go to President Obama and Senate seats fall away, party leaders quickly retooled their efforts. They're planning a series of voter-based polls and focus groups, meetings with constituency group leaders, donors and staff to find ways to broaden their appeal. The review is a recognition that party leaders were confounded by the electorate that showed up. GOP officials said that they met all of their turnout goals but that they underestimated who would turn out for the other side.
Many Hispanics were turned off by Romney's tough talk on immigration during the primary campaign, while Democrats think their candidates benefited from GOP policies on women's health issues. Underscoring the thoroughness of the GOP defeat, a Florida exit poll showed that Cuban Americans went for Obama by 49 to 47 percent -- a group that has been solidly Republican for a generation.
Some blame the losses on the pressure to hew to a purist brand of conservatism that wins primaries but turns off voters. Others take the opposite view, blaming establishment leaders and Romney for playing to the middle. "We've got to know what they did well," said Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee's spokesman. "... We need to know what we're going to be up against in 2013, 2014 and 2016."
When her father's second term as president is up, Malia Obama will be 18 and entering into adulthood. She and her younger sister, Sasha, will have spent their formative years in the White House, a place that their parents have attempted to shape into something resembling a normal home.
Over the past four years, Barack and Michelle Obama have put an emphasis on being home for dinner at 6:30 p.m. most days. The president has been an assistant coach of 11-year-old Sasha's basketball team, and has often gathered with both daughters and their friends on Sundays for basketball practice. Politics is not a central part of their lives. Before big speeches, their father's pep talks consist of a plea, such as, "Just look like you're listening."
"I'm so proud of you guys," Obama told his daughters during his acceptance speech. "Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes, you're growing up to become two strong, smart, beautiful young women." As the first daughters grow up, there are challenges that could pierce even their tightly knit circle.
Malia, a freshman at Sidwell Friends, will presumably want to learn how to drive. Then there's the challenge of dating while living in the White House. The Obamas have given every indication that they hope to keep their daughters' lives as normal as possible. Although being the president's daughters has meant meeting such celebrities as Beyoncé and Jay-Z, the girls are also tasked with making their beds, and in Malia's case doing her own laundry. "I don't want her to be that kid who is 15 or 16, and [she's saying], 'Oh, I don't know how to do laundry.' I would cringe if she became that kid," her mother told Oprah Winfrey last year. "We have real discussions about responsibility, not taking things for granted. ... And you're not living in the White House forever."