Campaigns love to think that October surprises will rescue their fledgling campaigns or seal the deal for a front-runner, but they seldom happen -- far less than what you'd expect in a media circus that loves gotcha politics.
People's minds are usually made up, the 'miracle' of an October surprise has to be profound.
But in modern American politics, terrorism is always at the top of the watch list of the political spectrum -- and candidates vying for the spot of the 'toughest' on terrorism is part of a winning strategy.
Across the political spectrum, there seems to be 4 topics that are of pressing importance to both the right and left, in order: terrorism/national security, the economy, jobs/employment, healthcare/ACA.
If anything could shake up an October surprise, it would be one of these four issues.
And while there haven't been any spectacular attacks, to the magnitude of the Word Trade Center, since 2001, lone wolf terrorism is firmly settling in as the new way for terrorists to stay in the spotlight, advancing their agenda one small attack at a time.
Lone wolf terrorism puts terror into the front of people's minds and thinking; especially, when it comes to the election. But does either major party candidate really 'appear' to be tougher on terrorism than the other?
There's really no great answer for this. Each candidate claims to be the toughest on terrorism, and their followers tend to follow in lock-step, but where does the valuable center and swing-voters stand on these issues?
Hillary Clinton leads, but only very slightly, in three major polls on terrorism, a topic she's the strongest on. But that lead could evaporate quickly if the attacks keep pressing forward.
Donald Trump's rhetoric seems too confined to stopping foreign terrorism from spreading domestically, but thus far almost all of the lone wolf attacks have been conducted by citizens -- not foreign nationals. Even so, this sort of bad news advances his agenda.
But it might be Johnson/Weld that get a small boost from the terrorist attacks, because a significant part of their campaigning and rhetoric has been that the two-party system has created the same unwinnable combination of solutions when it comes to all forms of terrorism.
A lift in their numbers from terrorism might be just what is needed to get Johnson on the stage for the second debate.
And most likely, as far as most Americans are concerned, Johnson's ideas on terrorism and national security ring true with Americans after over 20 years of Gulf War weariness -- No Nation Building. No Policing the World. More Security Here at Home.
The only easy answer here is that lone wolf terrorism will shape the next month of campaigning for all of the candidates. Voters will look for hints at who will be the strongest, who has new and fresh ideas, and who gives them the most assurance that their families will be protected.
But maybe we should take a step back from the current events and reflect -- should a handful of radicals really have the power to swing an American presidential election?
That moment of pause is needed, because the winner of the 2016 presidential race is not going to face a single issue presidency, but instead will be facing dozens of issues that need direction from the executive department.
If anything, we the voters need to be careful not to give the lone wolf terrorists their prize -- our full attention in the voting both.
Photo Source: AP