My own guess-- and Im generally terrible at these things-- I did think back in 2000 that there was a good chance Bush could lose the popular vote and win the electoral college vote (though by a considerably wider margin than he did). Doubtless the closeness of the final result weighs on their political calculations.
I guess again that at least one principle at the core of what the Bush-men wish to accomplish is one that much of the sophisticated left agrees with: Its all about the judges, stupid. The more Bush appears centrist the better positioned he is to appoint (and have approved) Supreme Court justices who can resist charges of extremism and restore constitutionalism. (So far, no positive results on some wonderful candidates for the circuit courts of appeal. But Bush has not yet begun to fight here.) I gather this feeling of mine goes against the grain of beltway conservative legal beltway thinking that has Bush favoring a Hispanic nominee for the Supreme Court, one that would likely disappoint conservatives. I would not sell this President short on court appoinments, which I see as a key and necessarily unstated goal of his.