How hurricane Sandy tests Obama, Romney
Both candidates have suspended campaigning for now, though Obama surrogates haven't. The president needs to handle the storm well, while Romney has to be careful not to politicize the event.
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But it appears Romney doesn’t want to disappear from the stage altogether. According to the Associated Press, he’s considering a trip to New Jersey later in the week to survey storm damage with the state’s governor, Chris Christie, a top political ally.Skip to next paragraph
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And even though the president is grounded until further notice, his top surrogates are not. Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton are appearing together Monday afternoon in Youngstown, Ohio. The Obama campaign has also announced that Mr. Clinton will campaign this week in Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.
Hurricane Sandy has also blown a hole into early voting in some East Coast states, plus the District of Columbia, but it’s too soon to say whether the storm will have a major impact on the election’s results. Most states in the storm’s path do not offer early voting or no-excuses absentee ballots. One battleground state, North Carolina, does offer early voting, which has been suspended in some coastal counties. Same for Virginia, another battleground, which allows in-person absentee voting but requires an excuse.
"If this was a direct hit on Florida, then we would be having a much different discussion about the impact of this storm," Michael McDonald, an expert on early voting at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., told NPR. "With ample time for local officials to respond and utility companies to restore power, we should have voting places up and running in most places by Election Day."
Still, the Obama campaign has made early voting a central feature of its ground game, and so any limits to early voting could hurt the president’s prospects. And with the race so close, even the smallest of impacts from the storm could matter.
The latest national poll by the Pew Research Center shows the differences in motivation between Obama voters and Romney voters. Among registered voters, Obama leads 47 percent to 45 percent, which is within the margin of error. But among likely voters, the two are tied at 47 percent each.
“This reflects Romney’s turnout advantage over Obama, which could loom larger as Election Day approaches,” Pew states in its report. “In both October surveys, more Republicans and Republican leaners than Democrats and Democratic leaners are predicted to be likely voters. In September, the gap was more modest.”