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TODAY WAS A WEIRD ONE: Just how weird? It brought us news of a "Frankenstorm" threatening New York City, a cop allegedly planning to kidnap women so he could slow-cook and eat them, and a live shark that fell from the sky in California. So, yeah, like we said, pretty weird. We'll get to all those down below, but first we'll begin today where we'll likely begin every afternoon between now and Nov. 6: the race for the White House.
STATE VISITS MATTER: Slate's John Dickerson: "In this final stretch, the size of crowds at rallies can reach into the tens of thousands. The candidate’s pitch is more urgent: What voters choose to do with their ballots will change the course of the nation. But beneath that vast sweeping feeling of history is an intense and focused game of gathering and sifting. To most of us, the attendees at a rally look like an undifferentiated blanket of people, but to those working the political ground game, it is a pixelated assortment of uncollected cellphone numbers, hands to work the phone banks, and sturdy legs to walk neighborhoods. In states with early voting, the people a candidate draws to a rally are fresh meat to be cajoled onto a bus and taken to a polling place."
SPEAKING OF EARLY VOTING: It appears to be giving the president the lead in the seemingly make-it-or-break-it battleground state of Ohio, where a new poll has him out in front by 5 points thanks to his 2-to-1 advantage when it comes to those who have already cast their ballots.
NATIONAL NUMBERS: Washington Post: "Republican Mitt Romney has edged ahead of President Obama in the new Washington Post-ABC News national tracking poll, with the challenger winning 50 percent of likely voters for the first time in the campaign."
RAY OF HOPE FOR ROMNEY: Slate's Kara Brandeisky: "Now that the debates are behind us, some of the more lasting effects are clear. The debates changed voters’ minds about Mitt Romney, but not about President Obama. After the debates, 37 percent say they have a better opinion of Romney, while only 16 percent say they have a better opinion of Obama. ... Obama may have won two out of three debates, but Romney walked away with something more valuable—a new image."
RAY OF HOPE FOR OBAMA: Brandeisky again: "While other polls are fluctuating, Obama is still maintaining a steady lead in Nevada. Yesterday’s PPP poll showed Obama leading Romney 51-47—exactly the same as the PPP poll two weeks earlier. In fact, since the debates, Obama’s approval rating has only increased, from 49 percent to 52 percent. Now even a top adviser to Nevada governor Republican Brian Sandoval predicts that Romney will lose the state by 1-3 points. Without Nevada in the Republican column, the road to 270 electoral votes narrows for Romney."
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY POLLS? Buzzfeed's Ruby Cramer: "With less [than] two weeks left until the election, pollsters are churning out 20 state and national polls a day—all for attention. 'Politics is not a major source of income, but it is a major source of branding,' says Zogby."
THE SLATEST: Obama Finds a More Colorful Word for "Romnesia"
HAPPY THURSDAY and welcome to The Slatest PM, where your afternoon host (@JoshVoorhees) is ready to get weird.
KIND OF WEIRD: The Associated Press: "An unusual nasty mix of a hurricane and a winter storm that forecasters are now calling 'Frankenstorm' is likely to affect most of the East Coast next week, focusing the worst weather around New York City and New Jersey. Government forecasters on Thursday increased the odds of a major weather mess, now saying there is a 90% chance that the East will get steady gale-force winds, heavy rain, flooding and maybe snow starting Sunday and stretching past Halloween on Wednesday. Meteorologists say it is likely to cause $1 billion in damages."
WEIRDER: The Associated Press: "A law enforcement official says a police officer's estranged wife alerted New York authorities about her husband, who is now suspected of plotting to kidnap and cook women." The New York Times gets a little more colorful: "The police officer referred to the woman as Victim-1, recording details like her date of birth, height, weight and bra size. He made note of certain materials, like chloroform and rope. And then the officer, Gilberto Valle, a six-year veteran of the New York Police Department, saved the document in his computer, entitling the file, 'Abducting and Cooking (Victim-1): A Blueprint.'"
WEIRDER STILL: The Capistrano Dispatch brings us news of a live, 2-foot-long leopard shark that apparently fell from the sky earlier this week and landed on a California golf course about 4 miles from the ocean. "Honestly, this is the weirdest thing that’s happened here," explained the golf course's manager before hazarding a guess on how it happened.
BACK TO REALITY—
The New York Times: "The Syrian Army announced on Thursday that it would cease military operations from Friday to Monday to mark the most important Muslim holiday of the year. The truce [is] likely to be severely tested on many fronts given the fractured nature of fighting across the country.... If the fighting does stop or even slow for the holiday, Id al-Adha, the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, it will be the first time since April that the two sides in the antigovernment uprising that began in March 2011 have at least said they would try to halt the violence."
Reuters: "A Libyan militant suspected by Egypt of involvement in last month's attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya has been killed during a raid by Egyptian security forces in Cairo, a security official said on Thursday. The Libyan was killed on Wednesday in a raid targeting him and other militants with suspected links to al Qaeda in Cairo's eastern district of Nasr City, the official said. Four Egyptian militants were detained in the operation, he added."
The Washington Post: "Russian authorities are dramatically escalating the pressure on the opposition that emerged on the streets last December, going so far as to abduct an asylum-seeker in Ukraine in order to force him to testify against others, human rights activists say. Russian officials deny the abduction. ... Leonid Razvozzhayev, the man who was allegedly abducted, is in prison, and Sergei Udaltsov, the leader of their socialist movement, is expected to join him there Friday, charged with inciting mass disorder."
SLATE QUICK HITS—
Weigel: The Power of James O'Keefe
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