The debates are in the rearview mirror, the candidates are (finally) starting to ramp up their daily campaign events and you cannot turn on a television without hearing "I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message."
But there are still a few things that could happen in the next 15 days and alter the dynamics of the presidential race…
1. ELECTION POLLS could/will tighten and prompt the inevitable "Mac is Back" storyline that the media may be itching to start writing (who wants to cover a football game that is over at the end of the third quarter?)
In the first ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll, Obama still holds a lead in overall vote preference, 53-44 among likely voters. This is essentially the same as last week's ABC News/Washington Post poll.
ABC News Polling Director Gary Langer notes that McCain has made gains on economic empathy and "change" since the third and final debate last week but those gains to do not alter the basic dynamic of the race.
"Focusing on economic concerns at the debate and since, McCain has trimmed Obama's lead in better understanding Americans' economic problems from 31 points last week to 19 points now; on bringing "needed change" to Washington, from 34 points to 21; and as the "stronger leader," from 17 points to 8."
Advantages still remain for Obama: He leads in trust to handle the economy overall by 16 points (55-39) and leads more voters think he is the candidate that has presented the clearer economic plan (50-32).
2. EARLY VOTING stories start churning out of key battleground states like Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Colorado allowing the chattering class to start to project how Election Night will go.
Thirty-six states (including 11 battleground states) have some form of early voting. In person early voting started in Florida today and the absentee ballots are already starting to come in.
ABC News' Tahman Bradley reports the following numbers out of Florida, per political sources there:
FL -- RETURNED ABSENTEE BALLOTS
Republicans 295,130 51%
Democrats 199,849 34%
Independents 76,798 13%
FL -- REQUESTED ABSENTEE BALLOTS
Republicans 869,149 48%
Democrats 638,513 35%
Independents 285,970 15%
(As of October 20, 2008)
ABC News' Bradley notes that the Republican Party's returned and requested ballot advantage from this same point in 2004 is down.
Oct. 20, 2004 – FL RETURNED ABSENTEE BALLOTS
Republicans 95,604 60.75%
Democrats 46,041 29.26%
Independants 15,717 9.99%
Oct. 20, 2004 – FL REQUESTED ABSENTEE BALLOTS
Republicans 431,503 55.41%
Democrats 227,554 29.22%
Independants 119,632 15.36%
Obama continues his Sunshine State swing on Tuesday with rallies in Lake Worth and Miami.
3. REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT makes a comeback on the campaign trail – not with guest appearances, but through the McCain-Palin campaign messaging.
ABC News' Jake Tapper writes that in an interview with Republican talk radio host Hugh Hewitt last Thursday, Rick Davis, campaign chair of McCain-Palin '08, said the campaign is re-thinking McCain's earlier decision to not attack Obama on the subject of his controversial former preacher. http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/10/mccain-camp-re.html
"Look, John McCain has told us a long time ago before this campaign ever got started, back in May, I think, that from his perspective, he was not going to have his campaign actively involved in using Jeremiah Wright as a wedge in this campaign" Davis said. "Now since then, I must say, when Congressman Lewis calls John McCain and Sarah Palin and his entire group of supporters, fifty million people strong around this country, that we're all racists and we should be compared to George Wallace and the kind of horrible segregation and evil and horrible politics that was played at that time, you know, that you've got to rethink all these things."
"And so I think we're in the process of looking at how we're going to close this campaign," Davis continued. "We've got 19 days, and we're taking serious all these issues."
4. THE WORLD SERIES somehow ends in an improbable tie allowing Barack Obama to have it both ways and declare himself the person best able to bring unity to the country and rival sports fans. Obama is walking a fine line in the Battleground State World Series by trying not to alienate the rabid Philadelphia Phillies fans or the Tampa Bay Rays fans who are riding the wave of a worst to first season and a big Game 7 over the Boston Red Sox.
"Bringing people together. So when you see a White Sox fan showing love to the Rays, and the Rays showing some love back, you know we're on to something right here," Obama said in Tampa today.
Obama earlier this month in Philly: "My White Sox are gone…I'll go ahead and root for the Phillies now."
(Obama should be hoping for at least a six game series so he gets that baseball audience bump on October 29 when he has bought a 30-minute block of primetime television on Fox, CBS and NBC.)
Biden Releases Health Records Joe Biden appears to be in good health, though questions remain about whether or not he has had follow-up brain scans after his two 1988 brain aneurysms, ABC News' Susan Wagner and Matthew Jaffe report.
Dr. Matthew Parker, an internist in Washington, DC, who reviewed a portion of Biden's medical records but has never treated or met with Biden, told reporters that his "clear impression" is that the 65-year old senator is healthy.
Hillary Clinton hits the road for Al Franken Hillary Clinton has a busy day Tuesday on the campaign trail, with a "Change We Need" rally in Omaha, a rally for Senate candidate Al Franken in Minneapolis and an Obama-Biden rally in Hibbing, MN. Hibbing is in Minnesota's so-called Iron Range, an area in the northeastern corner of the state and a traditional Democratic stronghold.
Tivo Alert! ABC News' Cynthia McFadden spent the day on the campaign trail in Florida with Hillary Clinton for a report for tonight's Nightline.
Backstage at an Obama rally in Tampa this morning, McFadden asked former FL Sen. Bob Graham what Clinton can do for Obama in Florida that he cannot do himself.
"Hillary Clinton is the most popular national politician in Florida today," said Graham. "She won this state, and she can help Obama win it."
The Kicker: "I will readily confess that I was one of many who swooned the day after the announcement. But it's kind of like dating a supermodel. There comes a moment, unfortunately, where they start talking." --Christopher Buckley on Sarah Palin
On the campaign front. . .
-- 10:30 am ET: Holds Rally in Lake Worth, FL.
-- 5:45 pm ET: Holds Rally in Miami, FL.
-- 11:45 am ET: Holds Rally in Pensacola, FL.
-- 5:45 pm ET: Holds Rally in Miami, FL.
-- 10:30 am ET (Doors): Holds Rally in Greely, CO.
-- 2:30 pm ET: Holds community gathering in Commerce City, CO.
-- 10:00 am ET: Holds Rally in Bensalem, PA.
-- 2:00 pm ET: Holds Rally in Harrisburg, PA.
-- 5:30 pm ET: Holds Rally in Moon Township, PA.
-- 12:30 am ET: Holds Rally in Reno, NV.
-- 4:45 am ET: Holds Rally in Henderson, NV.
At the White House. . .
-- 1:15 pm ET: Speaks at the White House Conference on New Era in Development.
-- 6:45 pm ET: Attends National Republican Senatorial Committee reception.
POLITICAL NEWS STORIES ON ABCNEWS.COM
ABC News' George Stephanopoulos: Why Powell Did It LINK
ABC News' Gary Langer: More Challenges for McCain, From Ayers to the Palin Pick LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller: Obama: McCain's Tactics 'Getting So Bad' Even Palin's Denouncing Them LINK
ABC News' Ron Claiborne: McCain Campaign Seeking More 'Joes' LINK
ABC News' John Donvan: How Far Will Obama's Kansas Roots Get Him? LINK
ABC News' Imtiyaz Delawala: Palin Differs With McCain on Federal Marriage Amendment LINK
ABC News' Imtiyaz Delawala: Palin Invokes Socialism Charge Against Obama LINK
ABC News' Imtiyaz Delawala: Palin Dismisses Powell Endorsement, Won't Reject Robocalls LINK
ABC News' John Berman: Obama's Baseball Blunder LINK
ABC News' Matthew Jaffe: Biden to Supporters: "Gird Your Loins", For the Next President "It's Like Cleaning Augean Stables" LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: McCain Camp Re-Thinking Decision to Not Use Rev. Wright as 'Wedge' in Attacks on Obama LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: Obama-Backing Senator Makes Crack About McCain Wearing Adult Diapers LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller: Standing With Rays in Tampa, Obama Neglects to Mention He's Backing Phillies in Series LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: Obama and Sunlen Miller: McCain's Tactics 'Getting So Bad' Even Palin's Denouncing Them LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper and Matthew Jaffe: McCain to Hit Obama on Biden's Prediction Obama Will be Tested by International Crisis LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper and Matthew Jaffe: Oh, That Joe! (No. 31 in a Series) - Biden Loves Dave Matthews? LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper and Matthew Jaffe: Oh, That Joe! (No. 30 in a Series) - Biden Riffs on Sports Numbers LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: Conservatives Embarrassed About Palin (A Continuing Series) LINK
POLITICAL VIDEO ON ABCNEWS.COM
McCain Keeps Up 'Joe the Plumber' Argument
Sen. McCain tries to appeal to GOP by hammering Sen. Obama for his tax plan. LINK
How to Vote with an Absentee Ballot
Live away from home? Learn how to make your vote count. LINK
Sarah Silverman Schleps for Obama
The comedian leads online effort targeting older Jewish voters in Florida. LINK
Palin Slams Obama with S-Word
McCain's running mate says Obama's tax plan is an "experiment with socialism." LINK
Could Race Change the Race?
A look at how race could play a part in the election. LINK
The Politics of Comedy
The election season has given comedians a host of characters to mock. LINK
Jake Tapper's Candidate Fact Check
In the final weeks of the campaign the candidates push facts to the side. LINK
The Bottom Line on Powell and Obama
George Stephanopoulos discusses how the endorsement will affect the race. LINK
Powell: Obama Has "Style and Substance"
The Republican former secretary of state endorses Obama for president. LINK
Record-Breaking and Hard-hitting
Obama breaks fundraising record, while McCain launches new attacks. LINK
The Battle for Capitol Hill
Can the Democrats win the nine seats needed for a filibuster-proof Senate majority? LINK
Voter Fraud Charges Fly
McCain accuses community group of "one of the greatest frauds in voter history." LINK
Does Powell Nod Help?
The Roundtable reacts to Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama. LINK
How Hawaii Shaped Obama
The Democrat shows his Aloha State spirit on the campaign trail. LINK
Obama's Money Influx
The Democrat banks $150 million in September. LINK