“Tax” Tuesday, an October Surprise?

What’s an October surprise you may wonder? Is it the Cowboys having a winning month? Well that would be a surprise for sure. However, the cowboys will be left for another day.

In a presidential election year, October surprise is political slang for a news event with the potential to change the outcome of the election. Every presidential election cycle doesn’t have an October surprise, but since the term was first used in the 1972 election, the potential and or rumor of one has always been there.

Some of the most recent and note worthy October surprises were in the 1980, 1992 and 2000 elections. Like I said earlier, the news event in question only has the potential to change an outcome of an election. It doesn’t automatically do it.

In 1980, The Carter vs. Reagan election was consumed in October of that year by the Iranian hostage crisis. Reagan was worried that Carter would work out some kind of deal with the Iranians ensuring him a win. As it turned out, Carter a few days before the election, had to tell the American people that the hostages wouldn’t be released before Election Day. Did this announcement influence voters one way or another? Perhaps some. Was it enough to change the outcome of the election?

Bush vs. Clinton in 1992 was not as dramatic, but did have a major news event that could have possibly thrown a negative shadow over the Bush presidency. Four days before the election, Cap Weinberger, who was Reagans Secretary of Defense, was implicated in the Iran-Contra affair. Bush as we know was VP under Reagan. Did it hurt Bush in the election?

Bush vs. Gore in 2000 brought a drunk driving allegation to the surface against Bush just days before elections that year. Bush himself did admit to them shortly after the news came out about the charges.

Will there be an October surprise this year? I’m thinking there might be. There are so many possibilities; from Israel attacking Iran, to the Iranians closing off the Strait of Hormuz. My guess, strictly a guess is that this year it will be a foreign crisis. Keep in mind it is called an October surprise, but doesn’t necessarily have to be in October. Wait and watch, it’s coming. 🙂


13 thoughts on ““Tax” Tuesday, an October Surprise?

  1. We will see about the October surprise. I am betting that if we have one, it will be an economic one involving Europe or China.

    1. Are you in agreement that it could possibly happen before? I’m still thinking it’s going to be something involving Iran. However, you are much smarter than me Paul. 🙂

  2. You may need to clarify a lil more on the 1992 “October Surprise” in which Casper Weinberger is implicated in the Iran Contra affair. He was initially indicted on June 16th of 1992, for perjury and obstruction-of-justice charges in relation to Iran-Contra, but four days before the election (October 25, 1992) he was indicted again but on new charges of making false statements to Congress – attempting to cover up then Vice President George H. Bush’s involvement in Iran-Contra. Weinberger would be pardoned later by the outgoing President Bush in December of 1992.

    This new indictment did fuel the Clinton campaign but could you make the case that it swayed the election? Not if you consider the electoral impact of Ross Perot, who on October 1st, 1992, announced his intention to reenter the presidential campaign, and that decision as a result had the same effect on the Bush campaign as Nader’s did to then VP Al Gore’s race against W. Bush in 2000.

    I think its fair to say that the real “October Surprise” of 1992 goes to Ross Perot.

    As far as an “October Surprise” for 2012 election? It would not surprise me to see another meltdown of the financial sector as the next sub-prime mortgage bubble has been forcasted to hit at the end of fiscal year 2012 – October 6th, 2008, is four years to the day of the last financial sector meltdown.

    1. Thanks for the comment mi amigo. I do agree with the charge you make about Cap Weinberger being indicted on the new charges right before the election. Did it sway people to change their mind at the last minute on who they were going to vote for? Probably not in this instance. The possibility was always there though.

      Now as far as Perot; he was running as an alternative to the party candidates. He announced in February of 1992 on Larry King that if he got enough support and got on all the ballots, then he would run. I guess that came to pass the first part of October. However, in my humble opinion, an “October Surprise” is something that happens in the news that causes a person to change their mind about who they are voting for based on a news event. Perot put out he would run that year back in February, he just made it “official” in October. Heck, he campaigned the whole summer. lol

      1. All you’ve got to remember is that a voter willing to cast votes for a southern, White, pro-business, fiscal conservative, wasn’t going to come out of the Democratic party. He siphoned voters from the GOP.

      2. Like we discussed on our lengthy phone conversation, I’m thinking that if an event causes you to change your vote from candidate A to B, not that you can go to C, then to me it constitutes an “October” Surprise. however, I could be way off base. I’m not the know all by far lol Maybe the good Dr. Fabrizio could weigh in on this.

  3. I referenced the Wikipedia page on Ross Perot to review his 92 campaign venture and I found a nice citation regarding his announcement that he would not be running for President: THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: The Overview; PEROT SAYS HE QUIT IN JULY TO THWART G.O.P. ‘DIRTY TRICKS’, Richard L. Berke, NY Times, October 26, 1992.

    Ed Rollins had also quit the Perot campaign in July, and this caused poll numbers to dip to 20%, so I think its fair to say that such an announcement meant the electorate counted him out of the race.

    Now although Perot’s run wouldn’t take any electoral votes he did take nearly 20 million votes, so had he NOT run (and voided out his significant negative campaigning against the Bush campaign) it would have been hard NOT to see at least half those votes going toward Bush Sr; thus, factor that in to the numbers it would’ve put the popular vote for the GOP at 50 million (Clinton was at 44.9 million).

    However, in order to factor real significance to any “October Surprise” you’ve got to be able to quantify what the impact would be to the electorate. To make the determination that Weinberger’s indictment was the equivalent of losing 20 million voters you’re ignoring a few factors: first, the nature of the “new” charges against Weinberger were significantly less felonious than those assessed to him in June; the affairs of Iran-Contra, which played out from 1985 to 87, were popularly associated with Reagan, not Bush; and more importantly, the success of Bush as Commander-in-Chief during Desert Shield/Storm overshadowed the clumsiness of Iran-Contra making it harder to believe that he was involved in such a nefarious crime scheme of trading arms for hostages.

    One can only speculate about the significance of Weinberger’s indictment, but if what we’re looking for is “a news event with the potential to influence the outcome of an election” than its hard to ignore the outcome of Perot’s announcement on Larry King. That decision captured the votes of 19,743,821 Americans; in retrospect, it almost seems too obvious, just by the timing of Perot’s announcement, that he was intent on being the “October Surprise” of the 1992 race.

  4. I dont think Perot reeentering the race in 92 was an October surprise because he was already deeply involved in his national campaign before that. He was running national tV commercials, a half hour each, on the debt in september, i believe. The indictment of Caspar was an October surprise and it actually did change my vote. I was going to vote for Bush until that happened and I realized that there was going to be a continued harassment of people associated with him and Reagan that would go on for ever if Bush won. So I voted for Clinton. How many other people switched I don’t know.

    To me the more interesting October surprise is the late revelation of the G.W. Bush drunk driving conviction in the 2000 election. Bush had the lead in the daily tracking polls but it was narrowing. Then with the reports about the drunk driving arrest, his numbers went downhill fast and Al Gore actually beat him in popular vote totals. I would argue that if the election were held on the wednesday instead of the tuesday, Al Gore would have clearly won florida and Bush v. Gore court case would have never happened.

  5. I think it’s going to continue to get interesting, that’s for sure. And sadly, I don’t think we’ve begun to see the length’s the left will go to, to make sure Obama gets another 4 years. The mere thought almost scares me. But…I continue to pray for our nation, and pray for many conservative victories in November, including the ‘biggie’. There are many important state races as well!

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