ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

AP's Jennifer Loven highlights President Bush's claim yesterday that Kerry wants to "expand government" in virtually every domestic policy and reports that the Bush campaign has increased its ad buys in Minnesota, forcing the Kerry campaign to do the same. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Washington Wire reports, among other items, that First Lady Laura Bush will campaign solo through the election.

Plus: "While Democrats seize on polling signs that Republicans' post-convention gains are waning, Republicans say Bush continues to hold a narrow lead nationally as well as in battleground states overall. As Kerry winnows his target-state list, he struggles even in those Gore won."

If you're looking for a free link to Ryan Lizza's latest piece (on Bush speak and Democratic frustration), look no further. LINK

The Los Angeles Times takes a look at the battle for military votes. LINK

"Tight restrictions on seeking the votes of active-duty military personnel, along with taboos in the military culture against the open expression of political views, make it tough for candidates to target military voters — and make it tough for pollsters to figure them out."

The Wall Street Journal 's Daniel Henninger explores the Lehigh Valley's significance in this year's presidential race.

In the Financial Times, U.S. managing editor Lionel Barber writes that "Republicans are outsmarting the Democrats in dirty politics" — with a rapid-response machine that puts both Dems and the press on the defensive instead of focusing on the issues. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: polls:

Al Hunt turns a skeptical eye toward poll numbers and ponders the effect if those "likely voter" screen questions aren't so accurate. LINK

USA Today 's Susan Page writes, "President Bush has surged to a 13-point lead over Senator John Kerry among likely voters, a new Gallup Poll shows. The 55%-42% match-up is the first statistically significant edge either candidate has held this year." LINK

Maura Reynolds of the Los Angeles Times didn't wait for the Gallup numbers before writing her poll story — which led with the other polling floating out there that showed the race more like tied. LINK

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press is one such measuring effort, showing the president's post-convention bounce fading, not only in the weeks after the gathering in New York but also between the first wave and second wave of its survey.

Pew conducted two waves of polling over seven days, Sept. 8-14. During the first period, Sept. 8-10, President Bush lead Senator Kerry among registered voters 52 percent to 40 percent. During the second period, Sept. 11-14, the race was tied at 46 percent among RVs. Among likelies, the first wave showed Bush leading Kerry 54 percent to 38 percent, and the second wave showed Bush at 47 and Kerry at 46.

President Bush boosted his standing on the issues — Kerry's strong suit — but still was vulnerable on Iraq and the economy — 58 percent of voters say Bush's plan for Iraq if he is re-elected is unclear. For Kerry, the outlook is uncertain, even among partisans on his side — just 43 percent of Dems say they think he'll win, down from 66 percent in August.

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04:

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