Swing State Watch

It's smaller than you'd think. Coming off a clockwork convention, Bush last week shook Kerry's support in crucial Blue States and gained ground in the Southwest. But W still doesn't stand for "wrapped up."

SPOTLIGHT: WISCONSIN
Local polls: Wisconsin's rep as the "swingiest of the swing states" is well deserved: while the governor and both senators are Dems, Republicans dominate the state legislature; in '00 Gore won by a mere 0.2%.
Big Issues: Jobs are key, but expect Bush to keep slashing at Kerry's credibility: cheeseheads pride themselves on picking direct, decisive politicians--think La Follette, Feingold, even McCarthy--for national office.
Game Plans: Keep fighting the air war. Since March, the campaigns, parties and 527s have bombarded the state with an unprecedented $15 million in ads.

MISSOURI:
Bush's 11-point post-RNC lead may be inflated --blame unreliable Labor Day polling-- but Kerry is slipping in this socially conservative state.

NEW JERSEY:
Traditionally a Democratic stronghold--Gore won here by 16, and Kerry led by 20 last month--the Garden State is now in play: two new polls put W within 4.

ARKANSAS:
Despite losing ground nationally, Kerry's down by only 2 here. Why? Experts say education: Ark.'s tiny rural districts are hoping the Dem will send federal funds for school repairs and new books.

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