The Note: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

NOTED NOW

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET)

FUTURES CALENDAR

Morning Show Wrap

Evening Newscasts Wrap

20 days until Election Day

Today is the third presidential debate

NEWS SUMMARY

Tomorrow morning, only three things will matter to employed political strategists of every stripe and strata:

1) The status of those pesky movables (independent and undecided voters) in the instant and overnight polls; and

2) how relatively fired up the bases are; and

3) whether or not their respective campaigns have in place the manpower, supply lines, and air cover for the pitched battle to come.

Tonight, when the cardinal of the CBS press corps says "good night"...

The — game — is — on.

Each side must be ready to rumble.

Or, as a seasoned veteran of the bloodiest celluloid war would tell you...

It is time to go to the mattresses.

Unless one candidate wins decisively in a debate whose stakes cannot be overstated (even in a politico-media culture prone to hyper hyperbole), this race is likely going to be settled by just eight states.

In fact, "eight" might be overstating it.

If you don't have the eight memorized, you should stop reading The Note until you do.

(They are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Nevada, and New Hampshire.)

Now that you are done with that keyest thing, to help you get ready for tonight, we've prepared an exercise: our patent-pending Notelibs.

Submit answers to: politicalunit@abcnews.com

The headline Karl Rove wants to see Thursday morning: _________

The headline Mary Beth Cahill wants to see Thursday morning:__________

The headline Michael Whouley wants to see Thursday morning:_____________

The headline Laura Bush wants to see Thursday morning:__________________

______________ (state name(s)) will fully drop off John Kerry's target list after tonight's debate.

Position John Kerry takes tonight that "shatters his credibility," according to the Bush campaign:____________

Either John Kerry or George Bush will concede the election on _____ (month) _____ (day)

Saturday Night Live will lampoon George Bush's _______________ (characteristic) this weekend.

Achieving success in Iraq is ________ (adjective).

Karen Hughes, Ken Mehlman, Karl Rove, and Ed Gillespie will give each other __________ (body actions) as they bound into the debate room twenty minutes before the debate ends to win the initial body language spin contest.

Re: Bob Novak's reporting that suggests the Bush Administration will conclude early next year that the best course of action in Iraq is a phased pull out. It's ____________ (predicate noun indicating relative degree of truthfulness).

________ (election super lawyer) will be a household name before December. (Note: Ben Ginsberg is ALREADY a household name…)

John Kerry would strike pre-emptively if the U.S. action _____________ (specify condition).

The United Nations is a force for ________(noun) in the world.

George Bush will make ____________ (number) different facial expressions tonight.

John Kerry will _____________ (verb) his message tonight.

ABC News debate tracking poll finds ___________ (presidential candidates' name who relates best to the American people) won the debate by _________ (percent).

Campaign reporters will say "_________________ (name) showed exuberance and enthusiasm at tonight's post-debate rally."

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