Thanks to his Miami win, Kerry hit St. Louis with a slim battleground lead. Now, with post debate polls pending, it's clear that W's strong second round staunched the bleeding. Tempe, here we come.
SPOTLIGHT: NEW MEXICO
Local polls: In '00, Gore won here by 366 votes, one of the smallest spreads in U.S. history. Expect another photo finish: Kerry's first debate performance has poll-vaulted him into a tie with W.
Big Issues: Immigration. Hoping to improve his weak 32% showing among New Mexican Hispanics, Bush has touted his "guest worker" proposal; Kerry has pledged to tackle the issue within 100 days of taking office.
Game Plans: Dem 527s -- some with the blessing of Gov. Bill Richardson -- are mobilizing Hispanics and Native Americans for Kerry. Both camps will target the swing city of Albuquerque, home to a third of N.M's votes.
Bush's been ahead here since mid-Aug., but now the wind's at Kerry's back: Both polls released last week give him a 1-point edge.
Last month KE04 quit advertising here, but the first Oct. poll has W up by only 2. Can Kerry come back? Not likely: experts say that despite voting for Clinton twice, Mo.'s tilting rightward this year.
When Aug. began, Kerry had led by 20; by mid-Sept., the race was tied. Thanks to the debate and defense (Edwards has visited weekly), KE04 is now up by 6.
Ad Buys: BC04 and the RNC have spent $10 million so far on radio spots, outpacing pro-Kerry groups 3 to 1; KE04 plans to buy more air time in the homestretch.
Campaign Stops: Both camps hit Pa., Fla., Ohio, Mo., Iowa. BC04 visited Minn. KE04 toured N.J., Colo., N.C., Mich., N.H.