I am surprised that the democratic party did not make a more concerted effort to grab one of the states in the heartland. It appears that they completely disregarded these states. From this perspective, in hindsight, it might have been better for Kerry to have chosen Gephardt or some other VP candidate who could deliver at least a state or two.
I think the moral of the story for the democrats is that they better find a Presidential candidate who can carry a couple of red states in the American heartland (a la Bill Clinton) in 2008. Hillary Clinton, perhaps! At least you can be sure that the best democratic campaigner will be out there in full swing.