That's why everyone in politics either dreads or dreams of the "October surprise," the late-in-campaign event or issue that suddenly upends all calculations and delivers electoral victory.
The term “October Surprise” was coined by a 1980s political operative but has ever since been appropriated by the media to describe unexpected political disasters in the twilight hours of the campaign. Sometimes they are intentionally positioned by political opponents to impact voters, often days before they head to the polls. They aren’t always successful, but they’ve become a staple of modern politics.
On Saturday evening, when the New York Times released its explosive report that Donald Trump had claimed a $915 million loss on his 1995 taxes and possibly hadn’t paid federal taxes in the 18 years that followed, it was a clear sign that the election had entered a new phase. Though the revelation itself was astounding, the timing was anything but: Less than a day into the new month, 2016’s first “October surprise” had arrived.
Political history is littered with the charred remains of such late-in-the-election bombshells that scramble political calculus just as the stakes are at their highest. An “October surprise” can be happenstance or deliberately orchestrated; international (e.g.the outbreak of war) or domestic (e.g. a massive economic rally). Sometimes it’s personal, with a long-hidden skeleton spilling out from a candidate’scloset. It can save a political campaign as quickly as it can wreck one. And occasionally, it can even decide an election and set the course of the nation.
有了“惊”这一个字也不足以翻译October surprise。这种surprise的结果，即可能对选举结果产生重大影响，也是surprise词义的一部分。也就是说，这里的surprise包含两层含义：新闻刚被爆出时人们的惊讶和新闻可能对选举结果产生的影响。因此，或可将October surprise译为“十月突变”。