GOP officials who talked to Bush-Cheney campaign leaders said the leaders had grown more worried about Ohio, Florida and other key states where Bush lacks a lead with just 10 days until the election. A poll by Ohio University's Scripps Survey Research Center, completed Thursday night, found Kerry leading 49 to 43 percent among registered voters, with a margin of error of five percentage points.
Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), campaigning with Vice President Cheney in northwestern New Mexico, told the crowd the GOP ticket will lose the state without a lopsided local victory in San Juan County, because of heavy Democratic activity elsewhere in the state. "Without a huge margin in this county . . . we can't win this election," he said.
One Republican official described the mood at the top of the campaign as apprehensive. " 'Grim' is too strong," the official said. "If we feel this way a week from now, that will be grim."
That Republican official said polling for Bush showed him in a weaker position than some published polls, both nationally and in battlegrounds. In many of the key states, the official said, Bush is below 50 percent, and he is ahead or behind within the margin of sampling error -- a statistical tie.
"There's just no place where they're polling outside the margin of error so they can say, 'We have this state,' " the official said. "And they know that an incumbent needs to be outside the margin of error."