The polls are uneven, but both campaigns agree: Bush leads by a few points. Expect that to change after Thursday's face-off. Kerry will up the heat; W will up the charm. And the winner could take all.
Local polls: A bastion of progressive politics, Minn. hasn't gone Red since '72. But Kerry's early edge has vanished, and now the race is too close to call.
Big Issues: On a recent bus tour (his fifth this year), W targeted Minn.'s fiercely independent voters with talk of "owning" their healthcare plans; Kerry is betting his green streak will lure lapsed liberals to the polls.
Game Plans: Get microscopic. Gore won the Twin Cities by 15%; W dominated the rural regions. Expect both sides to scour exurban counties like Anoka for those elusive swing votes.
With this once Blue State now a tossup, residents should prepare for more motorcades: as soon as Edwards announced a trip to Oregon City last week, Cheney scheduled stops there and in Eugene.
Thanks to great ground game--Wis. voters are 6% more likely to have been called by BC04 than KE04--W's now up by 10.
Storms have left the political landscape muddy: one new poll gives W an 8% lead; another shows Kerry ahead by 1. Local pols say they don't trust the counts.
Ad Buys: BC04 debuted a battleground spot bashing a wet-suit-clad Kerry for "windsurfing" on the issues; KE04 canceled buys in Ariz., Ark., Mo. and La.
Campaign Stops: Both camps hit Pa., Ohio. BC04 visited Maine, Mich., Mo., N.H., Wis.; KE04 toured Fla., N.C., Iowa.