All the more reason to use Florida as a microcosm of the whole nation -- the Sunshine State's electorate as a whole is clearly volatile and unpredictable. If there were to be some out-of-the-blue, Monday-before-the-election trend toward Kerry, it could create a final sense of momentum.
Second, turnout. There isn't a person alive who can accurately project what voter turnout will be on Nov. 2, at least not without a lucky guess. The notion that Democrats hold an edge in Florida because they want "revenge" for alleged electoral fraud is purely anecdotal.
There have been reports that on the first day of "early voting" in Florida, long lines of voters wrapped around key precincts in heavily Democratic areas like Palm Beach County. But there have also been projections that millions of evangelical Christians sat out the 2000 elections across the nation, and that they are set to storm the polls Nov. 2 on President Bush's behalf.
Third, watch for sudden, last-minute events. Not necessarily something as monumental and catastrophic as a terrorist attack (which would almost surely help the incumbent president), but something like a steep drop in the financial markets or another verbal gaffe by Bush or Kerry.
Cutting through all this muddle and speculation, George W. Bush seems to have a slight upper hand. For Kerry, there are no more grand stages like a convention acceptance speech or a televised debate with which to capture the nation's attention as a whole. It's now just campaign trail speeches and commercials.
Virtually every poll shows that Americans believe President Bush is better suited to deal with the ultimate issue of our time -- terrorism. Kerry made the fateful choice a while back to center his candidacy around Bush's mishandling of the war on terror. Now it may be too late to shift the focus to America's perceived economic woes.
The race for president is not over. But if Kerry loses, it will be because he failed to realize that Iraq is not enough of a daily reality to people in places like Florida to make it the fundamental concern in their lives. Now his chances are down to a reliance on the unknown and the unforeseen. That's never been a strong position in any venture. Certainly not this one.