The Note

The candidate makes his third trip to Louisiana this election year on Friday, joining the Family Jambalaya Jamboree at the Governor's Mansion in Baton Rouge, and then heading to N'Awlins to mark Southern University's Commencement.

The Senator earns points this weekend, pulling off the campaign trail to celebrate Mother's Day with Teresa Heinz Kerry and her children at the Heinz family estate outside Pittsburgh.

Next week, the Massachusetts Senator heads south, fundraising in Louisville, Ky., and Little Rock, Ark.

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush vs. Kerry:

In this week's Washington Wire, John Harwood looks in-depth at recent Journal-NBC polling figures, finding the Republican base is beginning to question troops' presence in Iraq . . . and that the gay marriage proposed ban has proved a mixed blessing, while the President "fares better in the culture war."

The Boston Herald's ed board admonishes Kerry for talking about Vietnam so much, but in the end scolds both campaigns, writing the "pointless rehashing" of what both candidates did 30 years ago doesn't help voters know who can better handle Iraq and protect the country. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

Washington Post polling director Rich Morin teams up with ABC News' own polling guru, Gary Langer, for a Post op-ed that tries to serve as a wakeup call for all the battleground state coverage, Noting that "this election's real battleground states will be different from those of 2000. And what's virtually certain is this: Covering the last election, like fighting the last war, vastly increases the chances we'll miss what really matters in this one." LINK

"If battleground states are presumed to have some mystical predictive power to side with winners, guess again. These 17 states (leaving off Tennessee, with Al Gore on the sidelines) have backed the winner 77 percent of the time since 1948. But the other 33 states have been on the winning side about as often, 70 percent of the time. The bottom line is that there are many ways to reach 270 electoral votes and no reliable way to predict how it will occur. After a season of monotonous renditions by the press and pundits that such-and-such state is a 'must-win,' it simply may not be so."

More: "Battleground journalism also does a disservice to the residents of the 33 unanointed states, home to two-thirds of voting-age Americans. For them, the campaign becomes merely the roar of distant thunder. 'Sit down, shut up, and watch Ohio pick the president,' we're telling them in effect."

National Journal's Insiders Poll declares Kerry's three best pickup opportunities (Ohio, Florida, and New Hampshire) and the three states that will be toughest for him to defend (Wisconsin, Oregon, and Minnesota). There's also an even insider split among the insidery insiders about how fair the press coverage has been for Kerry.

"If these states flipped according to these two lists and all else looked like 2000, President-Elect Kerry will have received 284 electoral votes to President Bush's 254."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Steven Walters rounds out the last day of Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's KidsFirst program, in which he described his goals for getting health care for 53,000 children, increasing the number of low-income kids who eat school breakfasts, and curbing teen smoking. Details to come later, Doyle promises. LINK

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