From partisan imbalance to the mainstreaming of cell phones, the various reasons for last week's national poll confusion continue to be widely discussed across the blogosphere. Nonetheless, there is some state-by-state indication of a Republican edge in the race right now. According to Electoral Vote.com, recent polls show that 20 states, by measure of the popular vote, are firmly in the Bush camp, while only eight are "safe" for Kerry. (It's worth noting that Electoral Vote pulls together the most recent state surveys, but doesn't necessarily look at the criteria or reliability of any given poll.)
While Bush's lead for the electoral vote in safe states is currently a bit slimmer (170-110), the battleground has shrunk. Democrats appeared to concede this in their most recent advertising buys. The New York Times reported today that although just a few weeks ago Kerry was running television ads (and thus actively competing) in 20 states, in his next round of ad buys he will abandon the following seven: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia. In contrast, Bush/Cheney '04 is waging a broader offensive, with ad buys in 18 states.
"Matthew Dowd, a top strategist for Mr. Bush, said the Kerry campaign's dwindling advertising in certain states showed that its options were narrowing. 'They're in a thread-the-needle strategy now,' Mr. Dowd said. 'They wanted to expand the map into our states.'"
Other supporters may still be buying ads in lieu of the Kerry/Edwards campaign itself, so it would be a mistake to assume that the states where the Democratic campaign has gone dark have been entirely left for dead. But as the Times notes, "Television advertising is one of the most revealing measures of a campaign's strategy. 'Where their advertising dollars are going is competitive and where they aren't going, it's not competitive,' said Kenneth M. Goldstein, director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project."