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PEP TALK: From Politico's Mike Allen: "If you’re a political junkie, enjoy it, soak it in: In our lifetimes, there may never be another race that looks this close for the final two weekends."
WITH THAT IN MIND: Eleven days to go.
RCP NATIONAL AVERAGE: Advantage Mitt Romney, 47.9 percent to President Obama's 47.0 percent.
RCP ELECTORAL COLLEGE: Advantage Obama. With toss-ups removed: Obama 201, Romney 191. With toss-ups assigned: Obama 281, Romney 257.
THE BATTLEGROUND: Obama leads: Ohio (+2.1), New Hampshire (+1.1), Iowa (+2.3), Nevada (+2.5), Wisconsin (+2.3); Pennsylvania (+4.8); and Michigan (+4.0). Romney leads: Florida (+2.1), Virginia (+1.5), Colorado (+0.4), and North Carolina (+5.0).
PAGING NATE SILVER: Yesterday "was a busy day for the polls, with some bright spots for each candidate. But it made clear that Barack Obama maintains a narrow lead in the polling averages in states that would get him to 270 electoral votes. Mr. Obama also remains roughly tied in the polls in two other states, Colorado and Virginia, that could serve as second lines of defense for him if he were to lose a state like Ohio." And in closing: "[W]e may be approaching the point where the state polls will have to be systematically biased toward Mr. Obama in order for Mr. Romney to have strong chances of prevailing on Election Day." Full post here.
FIVETHIRTYEIGHT FORECAST: Electoral College: Obama 294.1, Romney 243.9. Popular vote: Obama 50.2, Romney 48.7. Chances of winning: Obama 73.1 percent, Romney 26.9 percent.
FIVETHIRTYEIGHT NOW-CAST: Electoral College: Obama 293.8, Romney 244.2. Popular vote: Obama 50.2, Romney 48.7. Chances of winning: Obama 75.9 percent, Romney 24.1 percent.
MITTMENTUM: It’s a fool's game to guess whose momentum is greater. But Romney is peaking at just the right moment, argues Slate's John Dickerson.
IT'S FRIDAY, HOORAY! You made it; we all did. Welcome to The Slatest PM, where your afternoon host isn't remotely scared by the looming Frankenstorm. Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that he lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter @JoshVoorhees or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE KEN JENNINGS NEWS QUIZ: This week's Slate office leader board: 1) Seth Stevenson 441; 2) June Thomas 384; 3) Matt Yglesias 382; 4) David Plotz 379; 5) Josh Voorhees 373; 6) Emily Yoffe 354; 7) Bill Smee 329; 8) Jeremy Stahl 320; 9) Will Oremus 319; 10) Allison Benedikt 309. See if you can top us.
BILLION-DOLLAR MEN: The New York Times: "President Obama and Mitt Romney are both on pace to raise more than $1 billion with their parties by Election Day, according to financial disclosures filed by the campaigns on Thursday. From the beginning of 2011 through Oct. 17, Mr. Obama and the Democrats raised about $1.06 billion, and Mr. Romney and the Republicans collected $954 million, including some money for the party’s Congressional efforts, setting up 2012 to be the most expensive presidential campaign in history."
SPENDING SPREE: Politico: "Romney and the Republican National Committee came into October sitting on $146 million, more than the $100 million Obama and the Democratic National Committee had. ... But despite the money advantage, Obama for America had aired more ads through Oct. 21 than Romney, the RNC, pro-Romney super PAC Restore our Future and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads combined. ... So Romney and GOP strategists and donors must be freaking out, right? Not quite. They say this was the Republican strategy all along: to wait as close to Election Day as possible to hit the airwaves in swing media markets with a barrage of Romney ads — a stark contrast to the Obama campaign’s strategy, which has been to spend heavily on advertising consistently, making many of the buys in advance when it could negotiate a better price and airtime."
WHAT, YOU WANT MORE NUMBERS? Fine. Wall Street Journal: "U.S. economic growth picked up in the third quarter as rising consumer outlays and a surge in federal government spending more than offset weaker business investment, falling exports and drought damage, offering a mixed picture of the recovery just weeks ahead of the presidential election. The nation's gross domestic product—the broadest measure of goods and services produced by the economy—grew at an annual rate of 2.0% between July and September, the Commerce Department said Friday. Economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast 1.8% growth."
ELECTION DAY: The Washington Post: "After two conventions, four debates, hundreds of candidate appearances and billions in advertising, the 2012 election will come down to this: a brief and fragile connection between voter and poll worker. On Nov. 6, a one-day workforce of nearly 1 million will open the doors to about 130,000 polling places across the country. The question is, are they up to it?"
SANDY'S HALLOWEEN COSTUME: The Associated Press: "When Hurricane Sandy becomes a hybrid weather monster some call 'Frankenstorm' it will smack the East Coast harder and wider than last year's damaging Irene, forecasters said Friday. The brunt of the weather mayhem will be concentrated where the hurricane comes ashore early Tuesday, but there will be hundreds of miles of steady, strong and damaging winds and rain for the entire Eastern region for several days, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."
WHO IS SANDY VOTING FOR: Politico: "Could Hurricane Sandy be our October surprise? The possibility of a killer cyclone from the tropics delivering a gut punch to the U.S. East Coast just before Election Day, threatening tens of millions of voters with soggy devastation and a possible burst of snow, was probably not a factor in any candidate’s game plan. But it’s suddenly all too real."
SO MUCH FOR THE CEASEFIRE: Reuters:"A powerful car bomb exploded in Damascus on Friday and forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad clashed with rebels across Syria as a truce intended to mark a Muslim religious holiday unraveled and activists reported at least 70 deaths. State television said the 'terrorist car bomb' had killed five people and wounded 32, according to 'preliminary figures.' Opposition activists said the bomb had gone off near a makeshift children's playground built for the Eid al-Adha holiday in the southern Daf al-Shok district of the capital."
JAIL TIME: The Associated Press: "Ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi has condemned as 'unreal' his tax fraud conviction and said it was the result of 'politicized' judges who have made Italy unlivable and no longer a democracy. Berlusconi spoke to his Mediaset television station Friday after a Milan court convicted him of tax fraud concerning the purchase of rights to broadcast U.S. movies on his private TV networks. He was sentenced to four years in prison though he remains free until all appeals are exhausted."
SLATE QUICK HITS—
Map of the Week: Obama’s 284 Drone Strikes in Pakistan
XX Factor: Lena Dunham Ad Brings Out the Crazies
View From Chicago: Why Amnesty Will Lose at the Supreme Court
Enjoy your weekend. We'll see you back here Monday. But until then, tell your friends to subscribe here, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.
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