18 States, 8 Months, Millions of Dollars

Candidates Narrow Focus to 18 States (washingtonpost.com)

The election-night mapmakers created an indelible image of political America in 2000: red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats, and a handful of states, crowned by disputed Florida, that remained competitive until the very end. Campaign 2004 begins where 2000 left off.

Strategists for President Bush and Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) already have conceded a majority of the states to one another, with the election likely to turn on battles in fewer than 18 states.
The lucky eighteen?

Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, West Virginia, Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Arkansas, North Carolina, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Maine, New Hampshire, Louisiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

With the recent Democratic victories statewide, Lousiana is crowding out Tennessee, which is considered hardcore Bush now that Gore is not in the picture.
In 18 states, the winner's margin was 6 percentage points or less, and at the start of the 2004 general election, at least 17 are seen as competitive battlegrounds, as the campaigns' initial advertising strategists suggest. The one exception is Tennessee, which cost Al Gore the presidency when it went for Bush. Without Gore on the ballot this year, the Republicans rate the favorite there.
But I would like to point out that we have just elected a Democratic governor in Tennessee. Don't count us out yet...