In keeping with the above meaning, October Surprise is an internet poll, asking what levels George W Bush will stoop to to remain in power. The choices are as follows, in order of decreasing popularity:

  • Osama bin Laden captured! - Osama Bin Laden is found and caught somewhere in Afghanistan. A popular conspiracy theory is that the US already has Bin Laden so they can wheel him out in October, a sneaky move more Orwellian than surprising.
  • Spectacular terrorist attack on US soil! - What would stimulate polls for a patriotic president of the people who'll fight terror from sea to shining sea more than something blowing up, vindicating Bush's war on terror...? However, this could look a little too convenient.
  • Vote is threatened by terrorist attacks, vote suspended due to red alert! - I mean, because terrorists could target polling stations and kill people. Who might vote Democrat. This seems unlikely, it would look too shifty.
  • Diebold Election Systems fixes the vote in battleground states! - They have the means, they can do it. Just promise them a mandate for electronic voting everywhere in the US and they'll happily do your bidding.
  • Escalation in Israel, Iran, or North Korea. US opens a new war front! - No way, this ain't happening. In any event, since North Korea, Israel and Iran all have nuclear weapons, and NK in particular has said that it will turn the US into a "sea of fire", a war wouldn't be particularly conducive to Bush or the people. If there are any people left, anyway.
  • WMDs found in Iraq! - See "Osama found" above.
  • US pulls out of Iraq in October, leaving the UN in charge! - It would be seen as losing face, it wouldn't happen. It would be popular, but for Shrub it would be seen as a step backwards. Also, the UN wouldn't want to finish the US's mess.

My personal bet is that Bush will use the provisions in the National Emergency Act (as America has been in a state of national emergency since the Korean War) and possibly institute martial law to block the vote. Yay dictatorships.

An "October surprise" refers to action taken by a sitting President of the United States, using the power and/or influence of the Federal government to bring about a popular action shortly before election day (which takes place the first week of November), to increase his chances of getting re-elected.

The term was created by the 1980 Reagan Presidential campaign in their scenario planning-- they needed to prepare for the possibility that the incumbent administration of President Jimmy Carter might achieve the release of American hostages from Iran before election day. Thus, the canonical usage, referring to the alleged conspiracy between the Reagan campaign and the mullahs of Iran to delay the release of hostages until the new administration came to power, refers to efforts to prevent an October surprise, not create one.

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