The Note: Surprise Party

NOTED NOW

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET)

FUTURES CALENDAR

Morning Show Wrap

Evening Newscasts Wrap

Three Days Until Election Day

NEWS SUMMARY

Basics:

1. Either man can still win.

2. The same states are still in play today as were in play at this time yesterday.

3. The media not only crave October Surprises, but demand that each and every October Surprise have a clear winner and a clear loser.

4. Even poker-faced Republicans believe in this equation: OBL tape = more focus on "who will keep you safer?" = Bush advantage = Bush win.

5. A sliver of Democratic strategists believe: OBL tape + aggressive (continued) Kerry attack on Bush record on OBL + a break or two = Kerry advantage = likely Kerry win

6. Most Democrat strategists, however believe one of two things:

a. OBL tape + Mommy Party status + BC04 aggressiveness + tightness of the race + (3) above = Bush advantage = bad feeling …

or

b. OBL tape + Mommy Party status + BC04 aggressiveness + closeness of race + (3) above + the public mind about OBL among voters who matter + Kerry pushback = a wash = no one knows = possible Kerry win

In the absence of any data to grab onto, it is a near certainty that the vast majority of weekend TV chatterers will assume that the tape is good for the President and bad for Kerry, but a sampling of overnight coverage and anecdotal opinion suggests that this will not be a uniform view, and it is even possible that some pundits and reporters will be open to the Notions of (5) or (6)(b).

We continue to believe that a lot of the answer will come partly from how the candidates handle this and partly from how the press does -- and except for the inordinately nuanced (a.k.a.: wishy washy) narrative above, we can't really speak for either group at this hour.

But we will watch along with you.

Other things we will have an eye on today …

Both candidates are in the Midwest for much of the day, President Bush stumping in states that Al Gore won in 2000 before flying to Florida for one of the latest rallies of his campaign, and Sen. Kerry trying to defend Wisconsin and Iowa before heading to Ohio.

President Bush holds rallies in Grand Rapids, MI, Ashwaubenon, WI, Minneapolis (with Vikings head coach Mike Tice), and Orlando at 9:15 am ET, 12:35 am ET, 3:15 pm ET, and 8:00 pm ET, respectively.

Sen. Kerry rallies Appleton, WI, Des Moines, and Warren, OH at 11:00 am ET, 3:15 pm ET, and 8:45 pm ET, respectively, before flying to Dayton to overnight.

The Vice President and his wife hold rallies in Nazareth, PA, Zanesville, OH, and Davenport, IA at 10:00 am ET, 3:20 pm ET, and 7:20 pm ET, respectively.

And Sen. John Edwards travels the farthest distances today, beginning with a 9:00 am ET Marietta, OH rally, followed by a 2:10 pm ET Bangor, ME rally, and an 8:15 pm ET Daytona Beach rally with singer/songwriter Babyface. He flies to Jacksonville to overnight.

In today's Surrogate Watch, the Not Without My Daughters tour hits New Jersey, where Barbara and Jenna Bush campaign, and Florida, where present and past daughters Vanessa Kerry, Cate Edwards, Caroline Kennedy, Karenna Gore-Schiff, and Chelsea Clinton campaign for the first time together. (Alex Kerry is in Hawaii campaigning.)

Former President Clinton is in New Mexico with Teresa Heinz Kerry and Martin Sheen.

Sen. John McCain is in New Hampshire and Sen. Zell Miller is in Minnesota on Bush's behalf.

George P. Bush is in Wisconsin.

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