‘Tis the season for changing leaves, colder weather, the World Series and, in even-numbered years with US elections, last-minute October surprises.A traditional October surprise is a shocking policy development or something learned (or re-learned) about a candidate late in the game that can change the course of a contested race.
Think Henry Kissinger declaring peace was at hand in Vietnam days before the 1972 election.In 2016, there were so many October surprises — the Access Hollywood tape, a string of sexual assault allegations against now-President Donald Trump, new scrutiny of Hillary Clinton’s email by the FBI and the unanimous allegation by US intelligence organizations that Russia was meddling in the election — that they may have canceled each other out.
This year, Trump is trying to change the national narrative in the final weeks of the election by barnstorming the country, drumming up fear over a migrant caravan wending from Honduras through Mexico, hitting Democrats in conservative states for opposing his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, and promising an unlikely new round of tax cuts even before the last set Republicans passed fully kicks in.
Whether those national storylines penetrate is unclear, but there are also a number of more localized developments this week and this month.Be they opposition dumps from rival campaigns, axes to grind from former friends or foolish missteps, below are some of the October surprises of 2018. And note: most of these seem to feature Democrats, but the story of this election so far has been whether Democrats can make headway in Republican territory in House, Senate and Governors races.