Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Whirlwind Election: The Effects of Hurricane Sandy

President Obama onlooking the devastation of Hurricane Sandy
The warm winds of the red Republican’s campaign garners strength as it comes to a collision with the cool blue tones of the Democratic campaign. Obama seems to epitomize the social issues of America, whereas Romney seems to focus on the fiscal and economic issues. They circle each other in a calculated, mechanical, and biting Viennese Waltz. Growing closer and closer, until the impact is inevitable. A hailstorm of biting rhetoric, memes mocking both candidates swiftly breeze through the net, chaotic showers of them discrediting the other, and overall calamity. Below this turbulent political storm is a nation storm torn and weathered. Is it irony that the political atmosphere and meteorological one reflect each other so perfectly? With the onset of Hurricane Sandy, many meteorologists expected the storm to escalate and manage to hit the Atlantic coast of the United States. With a speculated 90% chance of this happening, President Obama signed off on emergency declarations of various Northeastern states including Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Some political scientists speculate that Hurricane Sandy will primarily affect the Romney campaign; whereas, others speculate that it will  affect the Obama campaign. Lastly, a few political scientists believe it will effect neither.
Romney's changing stance on FEMA has caused some controversy.

With the announcement of the hurricane hitting the east coast, civilians of America have recoiled into their homes. Romney is no different and has canceled several of his campaigns in Ohio and Virginia. Not only has he had to cancel campaign rallies, but he also has to deal with the returning case of his Romnesia and his statements regarding Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In June of 2011, approximately four months ago, at a Republican primary debate in New Hampshire a question was evoked by John King of CNN.   The question entailed the Romney's belief of states responding to emergencies, Romney responded by saying "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right decision. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sectors, that's even better." Romney has retracted this statement, arguing that his intention was not as cold and mechanical as it seems and that he fully supports the North Atlantic states during this time of trial and terror. Another problematic element to the hurricane's effect on Romney is that there has been an increased focus on social issues and the idea of a tender "Comforter-in-chief". GOP Strategist, Karl Rove, told the Washington Post, "If you hadn't had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the Romney campaign to talk about the deficit, the debt, and the economy. There was a stutter in the campaign. When you have attention drawn away to somewhere else, to something else, it is not to his [Romney's] advantage."Not only this, but the Hurricane is shielding critical states to the Republican campaign from rather important rallies. In Virginia and North Carolina, the polls are very hard to get to and many are critical if voters will make the voyage. Also parts of Ohio will be effected by this. Although, there are plenty of notable damages the hurricane is causing the Romney campaign- there has been some benefits to the campaign. For example, a 2007 study in the Journal of Politics stated that bad weather tends to benefit Republicans. Also, Romney has been doing a relief campaign in Ohio providing food and other necessities. He reportedly spoke for less than five minutes stating, "It was just amazing to see the turnout. It's part of the American way." This benevolent, humanitarian image will undeniably add some human aspects to his image. Mary McGirr, a 63 year old resident of Ohio, stated "I thought it was very presidential- not political. I think it gave people a feeling of helping out." The storm has been a vice and virtue of Romney's campaign.

Critics have called this "the image that will reelect Obama"
"The President has been outstanding in this and so have the folks at FEMA." This lovely line was stated by Chris Christie, New Jersey Governor and typically critic of Obama. In the past few days, Obama has been signing off relief care for the North Atlantic states and becoming allies and a comforter for many. Karl Rove has stated that, "Obama has temporarily been a bipartisan figure this week. He has been the comforter-in-chief and that helps." Also, a study in the American Journal of Political Science has shown that the electoral impact of severe weather is often overpowered by the impact of an official's response to the weather. Considering the very positive feedback from Obama's actions- all hope is not lost. There are some detrimental impacts to Obama's campaign, however. Obama has been striving to have citizens to vote early; however, with the hit of the storm many early voting booths have been canceled. Only 8% of the early voter population in the east coast has voted and only 29% will do so before November 6th. The states that were the very effected by the storm- New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut happen to be safe Democratic states for Obama and their decisions will rest on voter turnout. Connecticut's secretary of state, Denise Merill, stated that between 70 to 100 of the polling places are nonfunctional due to the storm. Also, Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason University in Virginia, stated that with such a tight presidential election and an unprecedented national devastation- there is a high need for Democratic voters from these states to go to the polls and help Obama win the elections. With such a neck to neck election, it is important that the American people in the hurricane devastated regions attempt to vote and cause the winner of this upcoming election to be a uniform American decision, rather than all of the US except the Eastern states. 
As the storm rages on and eventually dwindles- the presidential elections will come to a close and a decision will be made. Some say the storm will have a meaningless effect since it is primarily affecting safety states for the Democrats. Others argue differently. A 2004 study suggests that people blame government officials for natural disasters like such stating that it is some form of a punishment. If that is the case, then let a commandment arise that 'thou presidential candidates will not slander each other and use polarized techniques'. There are only a few more days until the presidential election must come to a close and after that happens, will the storm clear? Will we see the damaged nation lying below this stratosphere of chaos and calamity? This is a very close elections with numbers faltering between 48-52% of the people voting for Obama and the other half voting for Romney. Every detail must be accounted for at this point. It is up to November 6th to put an end to this storm. Some may argue that this hurricane did nothing to the election's turnout. However, perhaps this hurricane has helped civilians gain insight into the presidential candidates. As Arthur Golden stated, "Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are." Maybe, the American public can see the values that they have needed to see and the candidates for who they can truly be.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciated this blog post Lisa because (as horrible as I felt thinking about politics while people were suffering from the storm) I also found myself considering the effects Sandy would have on the race. The main thing for me was the unexpectedness and shocking, almost cinematic nature of it all. After 8 years of campaigning, fund raising and preparing himself to assume the Oval Office, Romney's ambitions may have been dashed by a rogue storm. There's often talk of an "October Surprise" that upsets the race and to have it be a natural disaster was very interesting. Seeing the candidates attempt to avoid politicizing the storm and focus on civility (at least for a week) was a refreshing change of from the typically toxic nature of the campaign and allowed each man a chance to show off their human side. The storm may not have shifted the race greatly but I believe it did have a net positive effect for Obama that pushed him over the top in the tumultuous final weeks