The Sandy FactorIn this post, misanthrope metrologist Aman Navani explains how Hurricane Sandy shaped the last throws of the presidential race.
Hurricane Sandy stopped the campaign trail in its tracks and shifted the public eye from the presidential campaign to saving and rebuilding lives affected by this horrible tragedy. While it might seem trivial to talk about the political impact of the hurricane, it certainly did change the dynamic of the race in the crucial final stretch.
Just a couple of weeks ago one could argue that the Obama campaign was losing momentum, just as Romney’s was picking up steam. The President embarked on a whirlwind tour of the swing states as his lead in Ohio dwindled ever so slightly while Romney consolidated his lead in Florida. The Romney campaign, on the other hand, repeatedly claimed that their ‘surge’ was as strong as ever and the momentum was firmly with them. While the extent of the surge was questionable, Romney certainly had the edge. His pitch to the center during the debate season seemed to have worked: he acknowledge the need for banking regulation in the first debate and attacked Obama from the left in the third, stating that “we cannot kill ourselves out of this mess.” Romney transformed himself into a more moderate, pragmatic Republican, one of a dying breed.
However, when the hurricane hit, people were more concerned about getting food to eat and having a roof over their heads than Romney’s five point economic plan. He could not talk about the debt and the economy anymore as everyone’s focus had shifted. Meanwhile, Obama had a chance to assert his leadership and restore his presidential image, and it seems he’s done a heckuva job. The Denver debate debacle and the desperate campaigning that ensued were far removed from people’s minds. What has stuck for East Coast voters is the lavish praise that Chris Christie has heaped on Obama for his aggressive cooperation with state and local governments in the wake of the tragedy.
But here’s a thought. It will take several months for the East Coast states hit hardest by Sandy to fully recover. Both governor Christie and Mayor Bloomberg- who also recently praised the president for his response to Sandy, and then endorsed him for president- know that they will need heavy federal support in the coming months. Even if they feel that Romney would be the better chief executive, they would have to wait until January 21st for power to switch hands. The worst thing that could happen for their states is to have a lame duck president in office, dragging his feet for almost three months. From their perspective, Sandy has made it all the more important that Mr. Obama keep the presidency.
However unpleasant and disturbing it may seem to Obama supporters, the undeniable fact remains that Sandy did help Obama’s election chances; in fact it might have even sealed his re-election.
Image credits to Reuters and LA Times, respectively.