Still North Carolina was considered once to be a safe Republican state. Obama had spent money but not much time there until recent polls showed that it was competitive. He beefed up his ground staff in the state in recent weeks, pulling some staffers from Georgia. President Bush won North Carolina handily in 2000 and 2004.
The McCain campaign said it is not surprised that Florida would be close. Obama has spent more than $10 million on TV ads that have been running for months. Democrats hold a registration edge, although Florida has gone Democratic once -- for Bill Clinton in 2004 -- in the last three decades.
Duhaime said the campaign was encouraged by what he said was a 240,000 advantage in absentee ballot requests. He said more than 820,000 Republicans had requested absentee ballots compared with 580,000 for Democrats.
"That's a huge advantage for us in people actually voting," Duhaime said. McCain will campaign for the second time in a week in Virginia, where some polls show Obama opening up a double-digit lead. He will also visit Missouri, a bellwether state that Bush won twice and which has gone with the winner of the presidential election all but once in the past 104 years. McCain and Obama are in a statistical tie in Missouri.
McCain advisers acknowledge that while they have been forced to "protect" these key battleground states, Obama has been able to defend such blue states as Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.