By Brendan Loy
It’s too early to be remotely certain, but Hurricane Sandy has the potential to become a big f***in’ deal for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, transitioning into an epic storm of historic proportions — not a major hurricane per se, but a monster warm-core/cold-core hybrid, possibly a “subtropical hurricane” (a category which isn’t even supposed to exist) — and slamming the region early next week with lots of rain and wind, huge storm surge and severe coastal flooding (at astronomical high tide, no less), and, on the western edge of the storm, crippling snowfall (!). It could be like a Nor’easter on steroids, a rerun of the “Perfect Storm” of 1991, or conceivably something even worse. And all of this a week before the election, with potential aftermath effects lasting well past November 6.
Here’s what the Euro model predicts for late Monday night, per WeatherBell:
[I]t’s worth noting that two major swing states — Virginia and New Hampshire — plus North Carolina and Pennsylvania, if you consider those genuine swing states…, and to a lesser extent Florida, could be impacted by this storm in the week before the election. Heck, the eastern part of Ohio, the swing state to end all swing states, may get some snow from it. …
[Moreover], if Sandy does strike the northeast a week before the election, and does cause massive, widespread and long-lasting power outages, as well as enormous damage to trees and such — not to mention crippling snow over the Appalachians (and maybe parts of Ohio???) — … [w]e could well see depressed voter turnout throughout the affected region, if the infrastructural damage is still being significantly felt a week later, which seems possible. That might not affect the outcome of the presidential race (unless Ohio really is hard-hit), but, as my father points out via e-mail, it could harm President Obama’s popular vote totals, if folks in Democratic strongholds — particularly New York — don’t vote because the storm’s aftermath makes it too inconvenient (and besides, they know they aren’t in a swing state, so why go to all the extra trouble?). There’s been a lot of talk about Obama winning the electoral vote but losing the popular vote, like Bush in 2000; in a worst-case scenario, Sandy’s effects could made that more likely. Sandy could also impact some key congressional races, notably the U.S. Senate battles in Connecticut and Massachusetts. …
Hurricane Sandy has the potential to make people forget Irene and Halloween snow from 2011. May it instead turn out to sea…
Possible effects of Hurricane Sandy:
1. SEVERE coastal erosion
2. damaging storm surge
3. flooding rains
4. crippling snows on western edge
5. people without electricity for a long time
6. voting turnout affected the next week
7. President Obama having to tend to a national emergency in the run-up to the election
I might add, “8. Mitt Romney needing to blunt harsh criticisms of President Obama in the final days of the campaign because of the perception that it’s unseemly to attack the president when he’s tending to a national emergency.” Unless of course the Obama Administration’s response is perceived as inadequate or incompetent, in which case all bets are off. Likewise, in this scenario, Obama would need to cool it with the attacks on Romney during the final week of the campaign, and with campaigning generally, in order to appear focused on addressing the national emergency. Joe Biden and perhaps Bill Clinton would probably become Obama’s major campaign-trail surrogates in such a scenario, and their message would need to be less hard-edged because of the sensitivities of the moment.
I suspect, if Sandy continues to look like a big potential problem — a “big f***ing deal,” as someone once said — we’ll soon start to see conspiracy theories suggesting that Obama will try to delay the election because of the storm. That won’t happen. But, in a worst-case scenario, Sandy and its aftermath could definitely become a big part of the story of the election.
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