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Inside Politics

Polls: Presidential race tight in three key states

Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin

Charlie Gibson of ABC's "Good Morning America" talks with stage technicians in St. Louis ahead of Friday's presidential debate.
America Votes 2004

(CNN) -- The presidential race is too close to call in two battleground states and in Colorado which has emerged as an unlikely key state, according to polls released Thursday.

Three CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls show the race tied in Colorado and within the margin of error in New Mexico and Wisconsin.

Sen. John Kerry's strength in GOP-leaning Colorado has been one of the surprises of the 2004 campaign.

Bush carried Colorado by nine points four years ago, and the state has gone for the GOP nominee in eight out of the last 10 presidential elections.

Republicans also control the governorship, the Legislature and both U.S. Senate seats.

However, while Republicans have a six-point edge over Democrats in party registration, about a third of the voters call themselves Independents.

The fast-growing state has also added about 140,000 new potential new voters since the last election, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, and the Latino population is now nearly 19 percent.

The polls were released a day ahead of the second presidential debate scheduled for Friday night in St. Louis, Missouri, and two days after the lone vice-presidential debate. (Special Report: America Votes 2004, Poll Tracker)

In Colorado, the race is even with President Bush and Sen. John Kerry each picking up 49 percent of support from likely voters and 48 percent support among the broader group of registered voters.

Likely voters in New Mexico give Bush a slight lead among likely voters, with 50 percent, over Democratic challenger Kerry, with 47 percent.

All three of the polls have a margin of error of four percentage points.

In Wisconsin Bush leads among likely voters with 49 percent to Kerry's 46 percent. (Interactive: Poll results in three states)

Each of the polls was conducted over three or four days in early October.

A September poll in Wisconsin showed Bush leading with 52 percent of support from likely voters compared to Kerry's 44 percent.

Bush won Colorado in the 2000 election. New Mexico and Wisconsin both went to Democrat Al Gore.

Four years ago, New Mexico had the nation's closest presidential race in terms of raw vote. Gore beat Bush by just 365 votes out of nearly 600,000 cast.

Although this is the first CNN poll conducted in Colorado and New Mexico, the national race has tightened considerably since Bush and Kerry faced off September 30.

A majority of Americans believe Kerry won that first debate. Until then, Bush held a healthy lead in many national polls.

Afterward, Kerry pulled into a virtual tie with Bush according to most polls.

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