WASHINGTON – An analysis of battleground states shows that while the presidential election is very close in national polls, state polls show a slight edge for President Bush (search) over rival John Kerry (search).
Kerry is defending more blue states, or traditionally Democratic-leaning states, that Al Gore won in 2000 while Bush has a more focused fight to keep states in the red column, or traditionally Republican-leaning. The president also has an electoral college (search) advantage he didn't have in 2000.
Part of the reason is that America's population has shifted to Bush country in the last census, shifting congressional districts and electoral votes his way.
Seven Bush states gained 11 electoral votes after reapportionment, while four Bush states lost four electoral votes. That's a net gain of seven electoral votes if Bush wins the same states he did in 2000, when he barely won the electoral college with 271 votes.
The shift means Kerry must win one big Bush state or several smaller ones to gain an electoral college advantage.
"Kerry would have to carry a significant state with a significant number of electoral votes away from the Bush column, which really gets down to Ohio or Florida," said election analyst Ron Faucheux. Florida has 27 electoral votes. Ohio has 20. Kerry is tied with Bush in Ohio and polling below Bush but within the margin of error in Florida.
Another challenge for Kerry: Bush is consistently ahead of the Massachusetts senator in Wisconsin, a state with 10 electoral votes that went for Gore in 2000.
Click in the video box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Major Garrett.