Season 1,

Episode 8: October Surprise

November 02, 2016

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With all the leaks, stories, allegations, and rumors emerging over the last month, a common phrase has come to the forefront of election talk: “October Surprise.” But what exactly is an October Surprise? What are the top stories heading into next Tuesday’s election, and what impact, if any, do these surprises have on voters? We’re answering these questions, and a few others, on this episode of An Honest Trumpversation…

85% of Americans polled recently had read, heard, or seen something about Clinton in the past day or two. 75% had read, heard, or seen something about Trump. Naturally, some of this is everyday campaign news and updates. Some is conversations with friends, family, coworkers. But a lot of it, especially right now, is something a bit more pointed. October surprises.

So what is an “October surprise”? It’s a piece of news deliberately created or timed, though sometimes occurring spontaneously, to influence the outcome of an election, particularly in a presidential election. The phrase is first found in the 1972 presidential election between Richard Nixon and George McGovern in reference to Henry Kissinger’s announcement that “peace is at hand” in the Vietnam War just 12 days before the election. Nixon had promised to end the war 4 years earlier during his first campaign, and American involvement wouldn’t officially end until 1975, but the strategically-timed announcement all but insured a Nixon re-election. What are some examples from recent elections?

Mitt Romney’s remarks about the 47% of Americans not paying taxes, or Chris Christie praising the Obama Administration’s handling of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In 2008, a story came out just four days before the election that Barack Obama’s half-aunt was living as an illegal immigrant in Boston after refusing to leave the country after being denied asylum in 2004.

So do you remember any of these? Me either. This election and the level of unsavory media surrounding both candidates has blown the vast majority of these past “scandals” out of the water. Maybe the most similar event we can compare recent stories to is the 2000 election when a police report was released showing George Bush had a drunk driving arrest on his record back in 1976. Bush promptly confirmed the arrest, and then went on to win the presidency, defeating Al Gore, though it was one of the closest and most controversial elections ever.

Throughout the election, and this podcast, when things like this have come out I’ve typically waited for the dust to settle. Let the hype blow over and see what sticks that might have some relevancy. Well, we’re down to the wire and things aren’t slowing down, so at this point, let’s just get it all out in the open.

Today we’ll discuss recent stories, what’s really going on, and what, if any, impact they might have on next Tuesday’s result.

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