Kerry has had a terrible month, and yet, if you look at the polls state-by-state, the race is still basically a tie. Electoral-vote.com has Kerry with 273 electoral votes, with Bush at 233, and Nevada and Florida tied. If the Nader votes in those two states switched over to Kerry (which I continue to think will not happen--as I've said before, these folks are bitter-enders, and if they're persisting in their folly now, after four years of Bush, then they've ceased to absorb new information), Kerry's electoral vote goes up to 305. Given that the undecideds should break at least marginally toward Kerry, it's reasonable at this point to assume that states with ties cut his way. So, even given that Kerry has completely lost the control of the campaign agenda, that his momentum is non-existent, and that he is running a phenomenally unimaginative campaign, he's still, state-by-state, holding on to a marginal lead. Despite my frequent statements of panic, this has got to be at least somewhat reassuring for Democrats.
This also points out that Kerry needs to do two things up until the election:
a) He desperately needs to find a way to get the campaign onto Democratic issues. The best of these is health care. Kerry actually has a sensible plan, and no one knows about it. The only way to get this back on the campaign agenda is to use some form of communication that breaks through voters', and the media's, filters. If I were Kerry, I'd arrange for a number of long-form ads, about five minutes, with him sitting at a table a la Ross Perot, explaining simply but clearly how he'd deliver health care to more people and cut the rate of medical inflation, why this matters for ordinary people and why it will work and Bush's plans won't. He'll get attention immediately for reasons that have nothing to do with the substance (Kerry rolls out Perot-like ads!) but this will probably also get attention on to his issues.
b) Kerry needs to realize that the effort to get people to like him personally and dislike Bush is a mug's game. Kerry is, and has always been, a profoundly unlikeable person--anyone who has been around Massachusetts politics could have told you that a year ago. Playing on personal qualities is playing on Bush's turf. Kerry is as strong as he continues to be because the issues and the state of the country play towards Democrats. Thus Kerry's strategy has to be to get attention off of him personally (which is the opposite of the stupid war hero strategy) and onto getting voters to think of him as a carrier for issues they care about. At the same time the 527s need to push Democratic issues as well. Fundamentally, all the domestic issues point in Kerry's way. If he gets voters thinking about THEM, and not HIM, he wins. It's as simple as that.