by Frank Schnittger
Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 06:11:17 PM EST
Nate Silver has expressed skepticism as to whether Hurricane Sandy will have any significant effect on the election one way or the other. I think he is a great numbers guy, but sometimes he just misses the big picture. I expect Hurricane Sandy to have a major positive effect on President Obama's reelection prospects for the following reasons:<p<p>
- The storm drowns out the electoral narrative Mitt needs to sustain his "mittmentum" and reduces his campaign appearances to a few school halls.
- It allows Obama to look Presidential whilst Mitt desperately tries to insert himself into the story with ridiculous attempts to hold sparsely attended election rallies re-branded as "Storm relief events" collecting laughable amounts of "relief supplies" no one wants.
- It draws attention to Mitts earlier statements that federal disaster relief is immoral and his pledges to abolish FEMA - not to mention his poor track record of handling disaster relief as Governor in Massachusetts.
- It draws a stark contrast between Obama's competent handling of Sandy with Bush's handling of Katrina.
- It reminds people of what good government is all about and cuts through the Republican ideology that Government serves almost no useful purpose.
- It draws attention to Republican congressional attempts to defund disaster relief.
- Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, long time tea party favorite, potential Presidential candidate, and Romney's keynote speaker at the GOP convention has praised Obama's handling of the Crisis to high heaven and refused Romney a picture opportunity "helping the distressed" in New Jersey whilst extending an invitation to the President.
- It emphasizes the Democratic values of social solidarity rather than the Republican values of "you're on your own" and underscores and validates Democratic concerns about global climate change.
- The timing disrupts the (partisan) campaigns whilst not necessarily effecting election day itself. Most of the states in the storm path are solidly Democratic in any case, and those that aren't - Va, NC and FL - have much reason to be grateful for Federal Disaster relief.
- It MAY damage the Democratic attempts to build a big lead in early voting in some states - for example in NC, but there is little sign of that yet.
- There is a psychological phenomenon whereby people who have been through a stressful situation with someone come to bond with them in a very emotional way. We are not talking rationality here, but of unconscious processes which apply even in very negative situations such as kidnappings - see Stockholm syndrome. The best recent political example is perhaps President Bush's bump in popularity post 9/11, despite mounting evidence of his incompetence and inattention in the lead up to that tragedy.
Sandy may yet turn out to be a positive October surprise in political terms at least even if it has caused a lot of hardship on the ground. There's rarely a cloud without a silver lining...