Electoral Vote Race Looks Tight

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Three weeks before the presidential election, a revised estimate of electoral votes shows a tight race between President Bush and John Kerry, with eight states in the tossup category.

The estimate shows 26 states with 222 electoral votes likely or leaning toward Bush, 17 states with 217 votes likely or leaning toward John Kerry and 8 states with 99 votes as tossups.

A total of 270 of the 538 electoral votes is needed to capture the presidency.

Ohio has moved into the tossup category, joining Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

A couple of recent polls in Pennsylvania have suggested some movement toward Sen. Kerry, but for now we think it is still a tossup.

Ohio and Colorado both have political histories that indicate they should go to President Bush, yet both public and private polls indicate Kerry has real strength in those states. For now, we think Colorado is still leaning toward President Bush but that Ohio is clearly a tossup. We will continue to watch these states in particular in the next weeks to see if clear trends emerge.

New Jersey remains in the "lean Kerry" column although polling shows President Bush making some inroads. Both Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John Edwards have visited the state recently and both campaigns are advertising in the Philadelphia media market that reaches the southern part of the state.

The sites of the final two debates, Missouri and Arizona, picked because they were supposed to be key battlegrounds, are trending toward President Bush.

The number of states where the Bush and Kerry campaigns are concentrating the bulk of their resources is now down to 14. They include the eight tossup states in our estimate; plus Oregon, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, which are leaning toward Kerry; and West Virginia and Colorado, which are leaning toward the president.

We'll continue to update our analysis right up until election eve.

Editor's Note: This analysis is not a prediction but an estimate of the race as it stands now. It is based on analysis of where the campaigns are allocating resources and buying television and radio ads, on past election results, on interviews with campaigns and independent experts and on polling. In addition to CBS News polls, this analysis utilizes polls from private and public sources. These include Mason-Dixon, L.A. Times, Gallup/CNN, Ipsos Public Affairs, Quinnipiac, Marist, ABC News, Research 2000, ARG, and Zogby, as well as state polls conducted for individual newspapers in each state.