August 28-30, Republican Convention Expect the news cycle to focus on “extremist” statements made by various convention speakers, and random comments about the lack of diversity in the audience and on stage.
September 3, Labor Day The usual narrative of Labor Day has politicians of both parties surrounding themselves with middle class workers, expounding the virtues of hard work. Democrats will use manufacturing union members as a backdrop.
September 4-6, Democratic Convention Democrats will avoid any discussion about the current economic climate or specific fiscal policy and, instead, highlight social issues like abortion and gay marriage in order to solidify its base and ignore reality.
September 7, Unemployment Data Released Assuming the holiday doesn’t delay their release, the convention will be followed quickly by more sad unemployment news. It’s likely that the U3 rate will remain at 8.3%.
September 11 Anniversary Both parties will take advantage of the 9/11/01 anniversary to emphasize their national defense credentials, and expect Obama to make at least a few references to the killing of bin Laden.
September 18, UN General Assembly Opens Expect little or no action on Iran or Syria, routine condemnation of Israel ahead of what is now thought to be a likely attack on the Iranian nuclear weapons facilities.
October 3, First Presidential Debate This first debate on domestic policy is likely to include gotcha questions over abortion (thanks to Todd Akin) and Obama’s newfound position on gay marriage. But also look for renewed attacks from Obama on Ryan’s plan to kill off Medicare.
October 5, Unemployment Data Released Another month and another unemployment report full of bad news for the president. This will be THE BIG ONE because it’s the last report before the election, the end of the third quarter, and Obama’s last opportunity to see a small improvement before the election. There is almost no chance the final unemployment number will be below 8%.
October 11, Vice Presidential Debate Depending on how well the Medicare attacks work in the 10/3 debate, expect renewed attention on Ryan’s plan (if the attacks went well) or silence from the moderators (if they didn’t). This debate includes both foreign and domestic policy, so expect surprised looks from the media when Ryan handles the foreign policies questions smoothly.
October 16, Second Presidential Debate Covering foreign and domestic policy in a town hall format, expect the media to focus less on what the candidates say and more on how they interact with the crowd. Predictably, Obama will seem charming and the media will label Romney as wooden.
October 22, Third Presidential Debate In the final debate before election day, the candidates will discuss foreign policy, which should include a heavy dose of Iran and Syria (depending on where things stand so late in October) and almost no time spent on Afghanistan where soldiers continue to die.
October 25 through November 1, October Surprise The historical window for October surprises is from four to twelve days prior to election day, so expect anything after October 25th. Perhaps another computer glitch will crash the stock market; an act of war somewhere in the Middle East; or maybe a college drunk driving scandal implicating Ryan in the death of a co-ed. In this campaign season, who knows?