Monday, October 04, 2004

‘Deuces Wild’

Early poll indications, after the first debate, are that the presidential race is now back to “even.” The newest polling shows the effects of the debate last Thursday and may swing even more after polls released late today and tomorrow.

This should be the decisive week in the campaign with the vice-presidential debate tomorrow night and another Bush-Kerry debate on Friday.

The last few weeks of a presidential race are always very interesting. As the race tightens up both sides become shrill, more desperate and more prone to vitriolic hyperbole.

One thing that crops up every four years is talk about a possible “October Surprise.”

Now, an “October Surprise” rarely happens but every four years each party is scared to death that the other will have one, or that something out of their control will happen during this crazy month.

The phrase "October Surprise" doesn't necessarily mean anything about October. It is merely the phrase used to explain how one party may do something that leaves the other no time to combat the problem before the voting.

This all started back in the 1980 election when Ronald Reagan was challenging Jimmy Carter. “Radical students” had been holding American personnel from the US Embassy in Tehran hostage for well over a year. The Republicans were scared witless that, somehow, Carter would arrange the release of the hostages during October and that this would result in a surge in popularity for the struggling president. It never happened and Reagan went on to trounce Carter in November.

Ever since that election we have heard about a possible “October Surprise” by one side or the other.

The biggest “October Surprise” we HAVE had was the one in the last election, and was actually in November. The night before the election the Gore people released a story about how President Bush had been arrested for drunk driving some 25 years previous. Nobody is certain if the news did any actual damage to Bush but to this day the Republicans swear that it caused the close vote.

This year it is BOTH parties that fear an “October Surprise.” The Democrats are fearful – and in fact talking about the possibility – of the Bush Administration capturing Osama Bin Laden sometime in October. This, they believe, would swing the election Bush’s way.

The Republicans are rightfully concerned about a terror attack here in the United States. Not from the Democrats, of course, but from amongst the many illegal aliens they have allowed across the wide open borders for the purposes of lowering wage demands from workers for their friends in business. An attack during October would do much damage to Bush’s claim that we are “safer” and possibly swing the election to John Kerry.

While each party dreads an “October Surprise” that would hurt their chances it is safe to assume that each party also hopes for one that will help its chances.

It’s all kind of silly, I know. But this is the American electoral process at its height. October is always an interesting time in a presidential election year.

To me the only thing that SHOULD be a “surprise” never is: That after the silliness of October one of these two parties will win on Election Day.

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