Just one week.
What a difference it has made in the race for the White House between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. Not long ago, pundits and polls were saying Obama was on the verge of pulling away.
But since the first presidential debate Oct. 3, Romney has gained ground in the polls, and fewer states appear locked in for Obama in the Electoral College. The race is shaping up as a dead heat.
The candidates are targeting a few battleground states, trying to sew up the 270 Electoral College votes needed to clinch the presidency.
So as the campaign enters the final three weeks, Texas shouldn't expect much personal attention from the candidates, because it's considered safe territory for Republicans.
"The states where you know what the voters will do are not important," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "The key states are where the polls are close and either candidate stands a chance of winning."
Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida are among the top battlegrounds.
"Everybody thought it would be close and indeed it is," said Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. "But Romney does, at this time, seem to be gaining momentum and waging a much better and determined campaign than John McCain did for the Republicans at a similar time four years ago."
Romney's resurgence was particularly striking in Florida, where a poll last week showed him moving from a 1-point deficit to a 7-point lead.
A new Reuters/Ipsos nationwide poll showed that Romney leads Obama 47 percent to 44 percent among likely voters.
A new Fox News poll showed Romney with a slim lead, 46 percent to 45 percent. And a Pew Research Center poll shows Romney ahead 49 percent to 45 percent among likely voters responding to that survey.
But what ultimately decides who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is the Electoral College, which has 538 members -- one for each senator and representative and three additional electors for the District of Columbia.
Election Day is Nov. 6, with early voting beginning Oct. 22 in Texas. Electoral College members don't cast their ballots until Dec. 17.
As of this weekend, Obama holds a slim 201-181 lead in presumed Electoral College votes, with 156 votes in a dozen states considered up for grabs, according to RealClearPolitics.com, a nonpartisan polling-data and political-news organization based in Chicago.
Less than a week ago, Obama had a 251-181 electoral advantage in the RealClearPolitics.com totals. The numbers are based on the latest polls in each state.
"It's a close race and the candidates now go to the battleground states," said Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha, an associate political science professor at the University of North Texas in Denton.
Now the candidates are trying to determine "which states they need to win, what's the best strategy and how do they best get to 270 votes," he said.
Only four times in history has a candidate won the popular vote but not the Electoral College vote.
Democrat Al Gore was the most recent, in 2000.
Gore won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College after the Supreme Court stopped a recount of some Florida votes.
That essentially gave the Sunshine State and its 25 votes to George W. Bush. He won the Electoral College, 271-266 (one voter abstained).