Hurricane Sandy, currently on a direct course for the East Coast, is sending residents across multiple states scrambling to prepare for heavy wind, rain, and snow. The Obama and Romney campaigns are surely taking stock of its effects as well.
The implications for the election are uncertain, as is the path and extent of the storm’s damage. But given that it’s projected to directly impact such states as North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, there’s plenty of potential for disruption.
In Virginia, the storm is already poised to wreck a scheduled joint rally with President Clinton and president Obama on Monday. Romney has already cancelled a Virginia Beach event for Sunday. Early voting is less widespread in the state than others like Ohio, since Virginia only accepts absentee votes, so the impact could be minimized at the ballot box if things are back to normal by election day.
That said, if there’s major flooding or snow, where it hits could have an influence. While the coast is evenly divided between swing counties, other regions are more polarized.
“It depends on where it hits and how much, it’s just impossible to say in advance,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told TPM. “If Obama were directing the snowstorm it would be in the Shenandoah valley and Southwest Virginia as they want as low a turnout as possible in those rural areas. If Romney were directing the snowstorm, it would go right down the corridor from Northern Virginia into Richmond, which is where Obama’s votes come from.”
The Dems' lead in early voting in Ohio now looks even more important should the storm shift to the west and hit the eastern half of Ohio up into Cleveland. Sandy could play just as important a role in the swing states as early voting does.