My thoughts and prayers this morning are with people in the path of Hurricane Sandy and the other storms converging on the Northeast Corridor. My sister lives in Brooklyn, and a number of my friends from my WSJ days live in New York City, Washington and elsewhere. One estimate I heard on the radio this morning was that 50 million to 60 million people stand to be affected. Folks, that’s 16-19 percent of the country’s population. Let’s hope it doesn’t end up as the super-storm so many meteorologists have predicted.
In the political world, both presidential campaigns are adjusting their campaign schedules to account for the storm, out of concern for the safety of residents and staffers in the places lying the storm’s path. It’s an old adage that Election Day weather has the power to change election outcomes. But we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case this time, given that both campaigns are acting similarly (as opposed, for instance, to John McCain’s unilateral, ill-fated suspension of his campaign in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis) and given that we’re still eight days away from Election Day.
The effect on the Electoral College vote is also likely to be minimal, in large part because the states in the storm’s path are almost certain to go for President Obama whether turnout is light or heavy. The one possible exception is Pennsylvania, where light turnout in the Philadelphia area potentially could play in Mitt Romney’s favor in somewhat of a toss-up state.
But it got me thinking: What if we were talking about a blizzard in the Midwest? Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and even Michigan and Pennsylvania (and Minnesota??) may be where this election is decided. Can you imagine the uproar if the election were to be decided by a narrow margin, with exceptionally low turnout in some of the most crucial states?
I can’t recall weather having that kind of impact on such a consequential election in my lifetime or the history I’ve read. Am I forgetting or missing something? And would such an event de-legitimize an election result in your mind?
– By Kyle Wingfield