U.S. President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry have tasted victory in New Hampshire, and they're hungry for more.
Mr. Bush edged then-Vice President Al Gore by about 7,000 votes in 2000 for his only general election victory in the Northeast. Mr. Kerry, a four-term senator from nearby Massachusetts, defeated his Democratic rivals in this year's New Hampshire primary.
They're both targeting the state's four electoral votes Nov. 2.
Mr. Kerry, a four-term Massachusetts senator, hopes he has an upper hand because voters know him from the primary and from watching Boston television stations, which spill into the population centers of southern New Hampshire.
Republicans point to Mr. Bush's regional ties -- his family owns a summer home in Maine -- and the fact that Republicans outnumber Democrats in New Hampshire, a state that has backed just four Democratic presidential candidates in the last century.
Independents outnumbered both Democrats and Republicans.
Mr. Bush's strategists argue that southern New Hampshire is filled with people who left Massachusetts to get away the liberal political traditions of Kerry's home state. "I had John Kerry for my senator for numerous years and I know he's done nothing," said merchant seaman Chuck Russek, 41, an independent who moved from Massachusetts to Londonderry, N.H. "I don't trust him."
Independents weren't so keen on Mr. Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries, when they helped Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to a landslide victory over the future president. Polls show Mr. Bush with a slight lead over Mr. Kerry.
BY THE NUMBERS:
4 -- Number of electoral votes
34, 28, 38-- Percentage of Republican, Democrat and independent voters.
4 -- Number of Democrats who have won New Hampshire in the past 100 years (Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton)
1 in 29 -- Chance of winning the lottery to participate in next month's nine-day moose hunt(525 permits, about 15,000 entrants)
57 percent -- the proportion of the state's reservists called up since Sept. 11, 2001
For 40 years after its first modern primary in 1952, the state had an unblemished record of picking presidents in its primaries. Bill Clinton, defeated in the Democratic primary by Paul Tsongas in 1992, was the first candidate to become president after losing his party's primary election in the state.
WHAT TO WATCH ON ELECTION NIGHT:
Both camps are targeting southern New Hampshire which has experienced the largest population growth. Residents living in northern New Hampshire still form the bedrock Republican base, but they are outnumbered by the southerners who include more Democrats and independents. New Hampshire is now viewed as a swing state in presidential elections, no longer a sure bet for Republicans.
IN NEW HAMPSHIRE FOUR YEARS AGO:
The state that handed George W. Bush a big defeat in the primary season gave him a slim victory over Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 general election. Ralph Nader drew 22,198 votes, but exit polls suggested Bush would have won New Hampshire even if Nader wasn't on the ballot.
Associated Press writers Norma Love and Holly Ramer in Concord contributed to this article.