The Note: Red (State) November

If the October surprise was that we weren't surprised, November's surprise is that we still might be.

(And Barack Obama and Sarah Palin definitely still can be.)

For consumption this Sunday: A presidential candidate sends back money to an aunt he didn't know was around, because she's in the country illegally. Another presidential candidate gets his nationally televised infomercial -- and tries to hawk cheap commemorative flatware.

A vice-presidential endorsement is turned into a quickie TV ad -- by the other side. A would-be vice president agrees to a hunting date with a Canadian comedian posing as the president of France.

Just enough surprises to remind us: For every certain assertion, there's a caveat; for every poll, an outlier; for every clear-eyed prediction, clouds.

The map may be turning blue, but red-state voters stand the best chance of glimpsing a candidate between now and Tuesday. Obama spends his Sunday hitting Ohio's three largest cities, (with Bruce Springsteen joining him in Cleveland), then visits Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia on Monday before winding his journey up in Chicago.

John McCain makes his final stabs at offense Sunday, in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire (a superstitious candidate does his final town hall in a lucky spot), before ending his day in Florida. Seven states Monday: Florida, Tennessee (to reach a remote swath of Virginia), Pennsylvania (again), Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada, and, finally, Arizona.

(Worth questioning, outcome depending: Why is McCain insisting on a final New Hampshire stop? Why is Obama not making a final Pennsylvania stop?)

Palin does a full Ohio day Sunday, then spends Monday in Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada; she won't breathe blue-state air until after the election, save for a refueling stop in Seattle as she heads back to Alaska.

For Biden, it's all Florida Sunday, then Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania Monday, on his way back to Delaware.

If cartography is destiny, the landscape for McCain is bleak indeed.

"Mr. Obama was using the last days of the contest to make incursions into Republican territory, campaigning Saturday in three states -- Colorado, Missouri and Nevada -- that President Bush won relatively comfortably in 2004," Adam Nagourney writes in The New York Times. "The campaign's final days brought a reminder of how Mr. Obama's financial might had allowed him to redraw the political map. In addition to the states he visited on Saturday, Mr. Obama was planning stops Sunday in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, which went Republican four years ago."

"Barack Obama and the Democrats hold a commanding position two days before Tuesday's election, with the senator from Illinois leading in states whose electoral votes total nearly 300 and with his party counting on significantly expanded majorities in the House and Senate," David Broder, Dan Balz, and Chris Cillizza write in The Washington Post. "The senator from Arizona has not been in front in any of the 159 national polls conducted over the past six weeks."

The counter(spin): "The race is changing quickly," McCain pollster Bill McInturff tells the Post.

"We are certainly encouraged by the tightening of the polls," McCain adviser Nicolle Wallace tells the Times.

The overused phrase: McCain needs to draw an inside straight. The underused phrase: McCain needs blackjack, then again, again, and again.

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