Well, bin Laden reared his ugly head today. I definitely see it as a premeditated attempt by OBL to grab the spotlight, and the timing plays into that. Which candidate this helps is I think unclear.
Yes, we know the studies that any time the terror alert level rises, Bush goes up in the polls. At the same time, however, bin Laden's appearance after a three-year absence (at least on video) does one very important thing: it proves his existence. I can't tell you how many people on the right that I've spoken to who say "Bin Laden's dead, Bush just can't tell anyone." I always rejected this, especially because the reasoning for why Bush couldn't say anything was absurd to me.
Well, now we have pretty compelling proof that he is alive. He mentions Kerry by name, and other things that suggest this is a contemporary recording. And my gut tells me there'll be more than a few undecideds out there that'll think to themselves, "This guy's still alive? We can't find him? What have we been doing for three years?"
Both Kerry and Bush made similar statements about the tape, safe statements along the lines of the "We will bury you, Osama" variety. Kerry tended to politicize it more, if anything, by repeating the charge that bin Laden was pinned down in Afghanistan before we relented and turned to Iraq. All I know is that Bush went years without even mentioning bin Laden's name. I don't know if he wants the weekend before the election to be all about this guy.
Then again, I could be wrong, the undecideds could go running to their protective father figure upon hearing this news.