The October surprise: Hurricane Sandy slams East Coast, barreling into Romney and Obama

The storm of the century, maybe the millennium, according to some experts, didn’t just knock about the average citizen living between Virginia and Maine, it has roiled the last week of campaign. Photo: The high waves roll in at Rockaway Beach in New York City AP

WASHINGTON, October 29, 2012 — Whoever had the most momentum going into this week — and both the Romney and Obama campaigns claim their guy did — now finds himself tempest-tossed by Hurricane Sandy, aka Frankenstorm.

The storm of the century, maybe the millennium, according to some experts, didn’t just knock about the average citizen living between Virginia and Maine, it has roiled the last week of campaign.

President Barack Obama stopped campaigning to focus on the storm and its impact on 60+ million people from power outages to billions of dollars in damage to the potential loss of life. Now the President of the United States will do in public what is his job, taking care of the security of American people. That means he will be very presidential.

Advantage: Obama

Governor Mitt Romney pulled back from campaigning in the affected states and told crowds elsewhere to keep the folks along the Northeast corridor in their prayers. But whatever he does, Romney has to be careful to not start carping at the President and his handling of the storm. For one thing, President Obama is no President George W. Bush and he won’t be flying over damaged areas. He will be a feet on the ground and hands on President. More of that looking presidential stuff.

Advantage: Obama

However, there is great fear among Democrats that power outages will last for days, if not weeks. Will people start blaming the President? Will Romney join in the chorus or at least its drumbeat?

Advantage: Romney

And those same power outages will mean that in some places, polling places will be shuttered because we now use computers and don’t hand mark our ballots. Then there are those people who will have evacuated their homes once electricity isn’t restored and they won’t be able to vote or are more engrossed by bigger issues, such as day-to-day survival. That could mean low turnout in some key states like Virginia, Pennsylvania, and even New Hampshire.

Sandy washes away part of Ocean City, Md.’s fishing pier AP

Advantage: Romney

As the government steps forward in the form of FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard, people across the country will see their government in action. Oh, so that’s where our tax dollars go, just for historic disasters like this.

Advantage: Obama

However, if the electricity doesn’t come on quickly enough because the electric power companies dawdle once more or the aging power grids can’t get up and running, then Romney has an opening to say that the government is not doing enough to get electricity reinstated. And he would have taken care of it, whether he could have or not.

Advantage: Romney

As you can see, the effect of Frankenstorm on the outcome of the election is a toss-up. And that is by only looking at the super storm a few days out. Who knows what the end of the week will bring?

The one good thing about Hurricane Sandy is that neither candidate can blame the other for causing it. Mother Nature was the October surprise that no one was expecting, not even the pundits on Fox News or MSNBC.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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