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Could Hurricane Sandy Tip the Election?

Could Hurricane Sandy Tip the Election?
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As the East Coast begins to deal with the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy, President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney face a dilemma: how to run for office without appearing insensitive to the damage caused by the superstorm.

Had Sandy hit back in August, the decision would be simple: suspend the campaign for a few days, maybe do some light fundraising, pull attack ads off the air. But with just one week until election day, the two presidential campaigns can’t afford to simply close up shop. It may seem gauche to worry about campaigning, given the damage done to the mid-Atlantic states, but with the race very tight, the next week could well determine who will be president for the next four years.

Sandy represents a potential game-changer for both campaigns. Its impact may well be felt, not just by those in the affected areas, but on the politics of the next four years.

For Obama, a Test of Leadership

Barack Obama will face a significant test over the next week. Can his administration effectively manage the post-hurricane clean-up? Can it help get power restored, transit up and running? Can it get water and food to those that need it, get hospitals that had to close due to power outages back up and running? In short, can FEMA manage this crisis effectively?

It can be argued that disasters like Sandy are precisely why we have a federal government. With damage in New Jersey and New York that will certainly run into the tens of billions of dollars, it takes the resources of the whole country, working together, to help get the affected region back on its feet.

The immediate impact of Sandy on polling will be unclear; there is some evidence that people vote more conservatively during bad weather, but there’s also likely to be a short-term rally ’round the flag effect benefiting the administration. If the recovery effort goes reasonably smoothly, it’s likely Sandy will prove a net positive for the president.

The danger for Obama is that the recovery effort does not go smoothly. The lackluster initial response to Hurricane Katrina caused serious damage to the approval ratings for President George W. Bush, damage that he couldn’t repair during his time in office. Had Katrina happened in October of 2004, rather than August of 2005, it’s likely that John Kerry would have won the election.

Obama’s political fortunes thus perfectly align with his duties as president. For Obama, nothing is more important than making sure recovery efforts come of without a hitch. So far, Obama has received plaudits for his response. New Jersey Gov. and Romney surrogate Chris Christie has so far praised Obama, saying, “The cooperation has been great with FEMA here on the ground and the cooperation from the president of the United States has been outstanding. He deserves great credit.” Still, that praise could quickly turn if the Obama administration mismanages the recovery.

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Image Credit: New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority

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6:02PM PST on Nov 8, 2012

Thank you.

6:02PM PST on Nov 8, 2012

Thank you.

9:04PM PST on Nov 6, 2012

Thanks for the thoughts.

2:08AM PST on Nov 5, 2012

Let's see the Navy had to sit out in the bay waiting for three days to get permission to help NY, Line workers were turned away because the NY wouldn't give up the overtime and/or because the drivers were not Union people ---- feels like the CURRENT FEDERAL government has no idea how to lead! Thanks for info!

5:45AM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

I think Obama will handle this situation with compassion. But like so many others have already said if the people in those areas hit hardest can't get out to vote it will mean less votes for Obama. (Postponing the election or run it longer so everyone has the oppurnity to cast there VOTE seems like a great idea)
As far as Romney doing the photo op with canned goods... What is this joker thinking? Or maybe that is just it he ISN'T thinking.. GET OUT AND VOTE!!!!

9:03PM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

I am REALLY scared that there are people like you on this board who are either ignorant or stupid in being an Obama supporter.

8:57PM PDT on Oct 31, 2012

Etch-a-Sketch Rmoney + Lyin' Ryan = of, by, and for the rich white men and big corporations.

The regressive Republican Party of No is obstructionist, mean-spirited, thuggish, religiously fanatical, scientifically ignorant, untrustworthy, xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, evolution & global warming denying, oily, anti-environment, anti-health, anti-consumer, anti-choice, anti-birth control, anti-education, anti-student loans, anti-equal pay, anti-99%, anti-Big Bird, pro-banks, pro-big corporations, pro-billionaire, pro-voter suppression, union busting, Medicare mashing & Social Security slashing, fiscally irresponsible, misleading, authoritarian, selfish, greedy, out-of-touch, dishonest, lacking compassion, warmongering, and otherwise dangerous.

Don't make a Mittstake. NEVER vote for Republicans!

Colin Powell: "I’m not quite sure which Governor Romney we would be getting... [he's] a moving target."

Newt Gingrich: Romney is "a liar".

Gov. Rick Perry to Romney: "You failed as the governor of Massachusetts."

Michelle Bachmann on Romney: "He's been very inconsistent on his positions."

Jon Huntsman on Romney: "He's been on three sides of every major issue of the day."

Mitt Romney: "Corporations are people, my friend... of course they are."

8:47PM PDT on Oct 31, 2012

My biggest fear isn't how the president will handle this tragedy, he'll handle it with both skill and compassion.
It's that with all the damage to the subway system and roads, I fear it will be very hard for people to get out and vote. Considering the states involved, I believe lower votership will hurt Obama.

7:00PM PDT on Oct 31, 2012

Once again Romney is out for himself with the Photo Op. One Hour!!!! Oh could he afford it? The money would have been better but then it would not have looked as good on the Photo op as all those bags.

6:20PM PDT on Oct 31, 2012


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