New Mexico (5)
Measured in raw votes, New Mexico was the closest state in the nation four years ago, with Al Gore nipping Bush by just 366 votes. Two days before the election, New Mexico once again appears headed toward a photo finish.
Bush has run a smart campaign and built a solid organization in the state and will return for a final visit on Monday that has Democrats worried. New Mexico voters first got to know Bush when he was the governor-next-door in Texas, which continues to sustain him. With four military bases and two national laboratories, he also an additional built-in constituency in the state. Bush has made inroads in the Latino community, particularly among younger Hispanics, with his message of lower taxes and support for small business.
Kerry has spent considerable time in the state and prepped for the Tempe, Ariz., debate near Santa Fe. His domestic agenda, which focuses on expanded access to health insurance and more money for education, plays well among the state's Hispanic voters. But he made his last trip to New Mexico last week and now must rely on surrogates like former President Bill Clinton and Gov. Bill Richardson to carry him to victory. Clinton campaigned in Albuquerque yesterday.
Kerry should win northern New Mexico handily, just as Bush will win the south. Kerry will need an edge in the Albuquerque area. Recent polls have shown Bush with a narrow lead. Democrats believe the margin of victory lies with newly registered Hispanic and Native American voters and the strength of the Democratic ground game, including that of America Coming Together (ACT). Republican Rep. Heather Wilson is narrowly favored to defeat state Sen. Richard Romero (D).