Dems' sweep isn't guaranteed

President Bush's last-ditch push for votes and Sen. John Kerry's comments that seemed to denigrate the education level of U.S. forces in Iraq have helped energize Republican voters. A Democratic advantage of 23 percentage points a month ago and 13 points two weeks ago is now down to 7 points.

A Pew Research Center survey released Sunday also showed that an 11-point edge for Democrats on the congressional ballot two weeks ago had narrowed to 4 points among likely voters. �It's gone from a slam-dunk for Democrats to take the House to a pretty good chance,� says Andy Kohut, director of the center.

What has shifted is the determination of Republicans to vote. The Democratic advantage among registered voters was 11 points, but Republican voters were more likely to be judged as sure to go to the polls, making the edge among likely voters smaller.

Bush and other Republicans have warned about the perils of electing a Democratic-controlled Congress, and they also accused Kerry of belittling U.S. troops in Iraq with comments he said were a botched joke.

In the Pew survey, 84% of voters said they had heard about Kerry's remark, and 18% of independent voters said it raised serious doubts about voting for a Democrat.

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