With the president's advantage coming out of the RNC dwindling (even with the weird polling variances we've been getting lately), there are two key factors remaining that are going to affect the success (or failure) of the candidates.
The first is the debates, and what'll happen there is hard to guess. The media is either going to be petrified of the right (due to the CBS scandal) or actively backing them (Fox 'n Co) and thus will likely break in Bush's favor, to the extent that that's possible. I just can't see how successful the president can be with the facts on the ground, however, as he's not skilled enough to win on sophistry and certainly can't argue his successes. The "flip flop" meme would work if Kerry was debating, say, Richard Novak, but Bush would look foolish.
(Not that he needs to avoid looking foolish.. he just needs to seem like "the nice guy". In 2000 that might have been possible... nowadays he gets far too flustered when challenged.)
The second, the Get Out The Vote effort, is the subject of an interesting New York Times piece that was linked from a post by "bruhrabbit" in the comment thread of this Donkey Rising post. (The implications of getting it from a commentary section are something I'll leave for another post.)
Here's the meat:
A sweeping voter registration campaign in heavily Democratic areas has added tens of thousands of new voters to the rolls in the swing states of Ohio and Florida, a surge that has far exceeded the efforts of Republicans in both states, a review of registration data shows.
The analysis by The New York Times of county-by-county data shows that in Democratic areas of Ohio - primarily low-income and minority neighborhoods - new registrations since January have risen 250 percent over the same period in 2000. In comparison, new registrations have increased just 25 percent in Republican areas. A similar pattern is apparent in Florida: in the strongest Democratic areas, the pace of new registration is 60 percent higher than in 2000, while it has risen just 12 percent in the heaviest Republican areas.
This may have a critical effect, and it's what one could call the "delayed action" of the rise of 527 groups under McCain-Feingold. While their advertising role is easy enough to understand, another effect is that both they and other "soft-money" organizations can (and pretty much must) spend their money on things like, say, GOTV efforts. An absolute TON of money has been earmarked for GOTV, $300 million by the Dems alone, and it's already having an effect- even if not everybody who registers votes, it's doubtlessly true that the more registered voters you have, the more votes you get on Nov. 2.
On the other hand, if the polling continues to get massaged in Bush's favor (as it has), Dems may be disheartened by the perceived futility of it. Then again, considering how badly most Democrats want Bush out, maybe even a faint hope will be enough to get them out to the polls. After all, life for Democrats under a Bush administration that doesn't care about re-election isn't something that I like to think about.
Of course, this is assuming that the election is decided by the voting machines anyway.