Here's how the cyclical theory would apply. During the primaries, Al Gore and George Bush both got unfavorable treatment from a press corps that much preferred Bill Bradley and John McCain. The monthlong drubbing that Bush took over the Confederate flag and Bob Jones University was naturally followed by a compensatory burst of good coverage. This rose to a glorifying peak in summer when polls had him way ahead. With no place to go but down, Bush had a predictably miserable September, ushered in by his crude remark about a reporter, the "rats" commercial, and several unsuccessful bouts with English syntax. Gore therefore entered his golden era, which lasted about six weeks, from the convention kiss to the first debate. Then the wheel turned again in Bush's direction.
Dead in the water. Remember, by mid-September the Bush campaign looked dead in the water. Several pundits announced that Bush was toast. But cyclical theorists knew what was coming. In The Washington Post of Sept. 21, staff reporter Dana Milbank wrote: "This just in. The Bush campaign is rebounding. ... Remember the stiff and programmed Gore, the earth-toned, faux-farm-working, pot-smoking, Fairfax-Hotel-living, slumlord Gore? Don't worry; he'll be back when the cycle turns again. We're due for a Bush recovery any day now."