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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

The Ultimate October Surprise

After a few weeks of hand-wringing by Democrats about why the race is so tight, Obama seems have broken into a clear national lead.

From Rasmussen:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday-including the first day of post-debate polling-is unchanged. Barack Obama once again attracts 50% of the vote while John McCain earns 44%. This six-point advantage matches Obama’s biggest lead yet and marks the first time he has held such a lead for two-days running (see trends).

From Gallup:


And this is how sees the race:


The race clearly favors Senator Obama and the Democrats who spent the last few weeks wondering why Obama was “losing” will now fret about how the Republicans will steal the election.

There has been a lot of speculation in the media and the blogosphere about a possible October surprise that would benefit Senator McCain.  There is the much derided–and likely non-existent–“whitey” tape supposedly in the hands of Republican operatives.  There are concerns about President Bush launching new military strikes in Pakistan or Iran to help Republicans.  Earlier this month, The Telegraph (UK) reported that the Dutch had withdrawn a spy from Iran because the Dutch government believe that a US attack on Iran was coming.  The LA Times recently reported that the Bush administration had launched a big push to capture Osama bin Laden, perhaps hoping to nab the Al Qaeda leader in time to influence the November elections.  There has even been speculation that Al Qaeda may launch an attack in order to influence voters.

While I highly doubt that the “whitey tape” so many Republicans and anti-Obama Democrats are hoping for will appear, I think that Senator McCain might have something up his sleeve.  He has shown that he is willing to make unexpected, unconventional decisions to shake up the race.  The “Celebrity” ad (this one is actually my favorite) and his selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate are examples.

Unlike many others who believe the October Surprise will be a foreign policy event of some kind, I believe that Senator McCain is most likely to shake up the race by making an announcing that he will only serve one term.  With his campaign seriously on the ropes, I can envision McCain making an announcement like this:

My friends, these are perilous times for our country.  Our economy teeters on the edge of disaster.  We are fighting two wars.  A culture of greed and corruption have taken control of Washington DC.  We can’t afford leaders who do spend their time in office planning for the next election.  At this moment, our nation needs a president who can see further than four years into the future.  The best way to do this is to elect a president who will be unencumbered by electoral politics, a president who can make tough decisions without worrying about upsetting interest groups or donors.  As such, I have decided that if I am elected, I will serve only one term.

If McCain comes to the conclusion that he’s not going to win without one more big move, he might attempt something like this.  The only problem is that is that the announcement would be coming from a position of weakness rather than a position of strength.  It could be seen as a cheap trick or an act of desperation.  On the other hand, voters might appreciate having a president who doesn’t have answer phone calls from important interest groups or lobbyists.  And its a pledge that the voters could hold McCain to.  If he tried to break the pledge, he would go down in defeat in 2012.

What do you think?  Am I nuts?  Would he actually do something like this?  Would it work?  How could the Obama campaign counter a move like this?

More importantly, would it change your vote?


  1. fogiv

    …and it wouldn’t change my vote.  😉

    I’m sure he has some kind of last ditch gimmick up his sleeve, but I doubt it’ll be the “one term only” card.  It would just underscore his rapidly advancing age and fully-fledged codgerdom.  On the heels of the last debate, and the “get off my lawn” feel he imbued to Indy’s and undecideds, it would be a bad move.

    That said, he’s done nothing BUT make bad moves.  So, yeah, maybe that’s his final gambit after all.

    We’ll soon see.  He’s practically out of time.  Early voting began last week.  

  2. rfahey22

    I think it would come across as yet another gimmick.  Plus, I imagine that it would focus attention yet again on Palin, since she would then be the presumptive nominee in 2012.  

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