Could Hurricane Sandy somehow swing the presidential election?



Forget about October surprises. Hurricane Sandy is an October Black Swan. And given a dead-heat 2012 presidential election, there’s already plenty of speculation aboput how it might impact what happens Nov. 6. I think the consensus is that it helps President Obama. This tweet from British journalist Toby Harden is typical: “Hard to see right now how #Sandy benefits Romney – he cedes stage to Obama & is unable to boost what momentum he may have in OH, FL, WI etc.”

Obama as Commander-in-Chief in a time of national emergency, not just a beleaguered incumbent presiding over a worst-ever economic recovery. The rally-around-the flag phenomenon. People looking to government for help. Beyond psychology, it might also help Obama since he seems to be leading among early voters,and the aftermath of the superstorm might prevent Romney voters from getting to the polls next Tuesday.

But the other side of that trade is this: Millions of Americans are being forced to spend lots of money on hurricane preparations — extra food, flashlights, batteries generators, plywoood, hotels — at time when they are trying to rebuild their savings. Millions of Americans whose incomes and take-home pay fell not only during the Great Recession but also during the Not-So-Great Recovery — or as I put it, the Long Recession. These unexpected expenditures might well remind many of a) how precarious their financial situation is and b) how they’re not back to even despite a supposed three-year economic rebound.

And if you think Romney is ahead, Sandy might well freeze the race to his advantage.

But since this sort of disaster before Election Day is, I believe, unprecedented, one theory is about as valid as the next. My guess, though, is that this historic washout, from a political perspective, will be a wash.

9 thoughts on “Could Hurricane Sandy somehow swing the presidential election?

  1. The calculus of the storm’s impact will be interesting. The states that will be affected are either hopelessly in Obama’s camp (New York, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland Delaware, Rhode Island, Massachusetts), or mostly in his camp (Pennsylvania, New Hampshire), or dead heats (Virginia, Ohio). How might these voters react? If the damage severe enough to impact voting next week, will Obama somehow seek to delay voting (I know it’s state by state and therefore a governor’s call, but Obama’s bully pulpit may especially resonate in blue states)? Interesting times…

  2. Unless the election is a landslide for Romney, the Dems will argue that Sandy disenfranchised poor and minority voters. It could be worse than the Florida recount.

  3. Obama’s constituents and base are America’s serial slackers who frequently don’t always show up to work. They are America’s lazy, detached, non-achievers. The storm will be their perfect excuse to stay home, buy a few extra bottles of Jack Daniels or case of Colt-45, get stinking drunk and tune-out. They are America’s detached, uninterested, clueless, habitual no-shows.

    So with their turnout out likely to shrink, this is great news for Romney.

    • On the other hand, Romney and Republicans have a lot more cash for ads than the profligate Dems. With the hurricane forcing people to stay at home, Romney’s television ads might gain much wider an audience.

  4. Bad weather is a net positive for Mitt Romney. The Republican base is very highly motivated to vote against Barack Obama. Many already did in early voting. They are strongest in the outer suburbs and rural areas where people are also more self-reliant. I would expect people in these Republican leaning areas to get out their chain saws and trucks and work together to clear debris and make repairs. These resourceful people will also figure out a way to hold and election and vote. Meanwhile, Democrats in the cities will complain loudly about how slowly the government responds to their needs.

  5. I don’t know if it will work. But Romney has always been a pretty epically helpful guy, right? He should join his church group for a full day of clean-up efforts in the stricken areas. He has done it before. It will show his character as opposed to a quick visit which might seem opportunistic. I think it would show people something about him but at a real sacrifice for him.

  6. hey it would be really cool if states like Ny, bec of low turnout from the storm, end up in romneys column! stranger things have happened! i live in brooklyn, ny and i know no matter what happens im going nov 6 to vote for mitt romney and there are prop people like me… its a long shot but who knows? right now im lucky i have power bec there are power lines down all over my area….

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