miércoles, 31 de octubre de 2012

Sandy: A bummer for Obama or a storm surge in the polls? - NEWS.com.au

Whose campaign will suffer the most damage? Source: AFP

SUPERSTORM Sandy struck as predicted, now the clean-up begins. But with five days to go until the US election, which presidential candidate will clean up with the voters?

A popular theory is that extreme weather events are good news for the incumbent. But that only works if they handle them right.

If the person in charge responds sluggishly and without real sympathy, like George W Bush in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it's bad news.

But if they roll their sleeves up and look like they're doing all they can to help out, they can experience a poll surge to rival the storm surge.

Thus far, Obama has done all the right things. He has gotten his shoes good and soaked, and even pulled an all-nighter last night to demonstrate his commitment to the cause.

By contrast, challenger Mitt Romney has stuck closer to his original campaign schedule. He cancelled campaign engagements on Tuesday, but is set to be back on the hustings in Florida today.

In New Jersey, one of the states hit hardest by Sandy, Republican governor Chris Christie has lavished praise on President Obama's response

"I have to say the administration, the president himself and FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] have been outstanding with us so far," Governor Christie said.

That's a bit of a slap in the face for Mitt Romney, and not just because Governor Christie normally bags anything Obama says or does.

In 2011, Mitt Romney said he wanted to close FEMA and make states pay for their own disasters. Yet here we have a state governor effectively saying "thank god for federal funding in our time of need – the same federal funding which Mitt Romney wants to axe!"


But the picture isn't all bad for Mitt Romney, who has drawn the skinniest of leads in many polls after trailing for much of the campaign.

Voting is not compulsory in America, and Barack Obama will again be praying that those who favour him actually turn up at a polling booth.

It's now doubtful whether the president will be able to galvanise these people to the polling booths next Tuesday, as some may still be cleaning up, or inconvenienced by power and transport outages.

The president could also suffer from a voter backlash in swing states like Colorado and Florida where he abandoned campaign appearances. It's fair to say that most residents of these states don't care what happens in New York City, and would rather the president stuck to his engagements.

The damage bill from this storm is now predicted to reach as much as $100 billion. The political fallout is still up for debate.

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