Obama heads to D.C.; Mitt keeps campaigning.
Super-storm or not, the political show must go on. Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is prepared to hit all of his scheduled campaign stops Monday, rally-hopping from Ohio to Illinois to Iowa and ending his day in Wisconsin. But that doesn’t mean Mitt’s ignoring the treacherous weather slated to hit the Northeast. He’s got New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on speed dial, for one thing, and members of his campaign will be collecting storm-relief supplies at their North Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Virginia offices. Meanwhile, President Obama is heading back to Washington and letting Bill Clinton stand in for him at a Florida rally. Both candidates are giving the residents of states in Sandy’s path a break from fundraising emails for the next day or so.
Romney was on a roll until Hurricane Sandy upended the campaign. Howard Kurtz on why the storm hurts him far more than the president.
The monster storm battering the East Coast is hurting both presidential candidates. But it is probably hurting Mitt Romney more.
Mitt Romney greets supporters at a rally in Celina, Ohio, on Sunday. (Melina Mara, The Washington Post / Getty Images)
By freezing the campaign in its tracks, Hurricane Sandy is blunting the momentum that Romney had achieved since the debates, which put him ahead of President Obama in many national tracking polls and had him edging ahead or closing the gap in several key swing states. With the killer storm now dominating the news, Romney faces the challenge of keeping the conversation on politics when tens of millions of Americans are focused on anything but.
Romney’s progress, at least as measured by polls, may have been petering out anyway before Sandy struck. But from the viewpoint of a challenger trying to make the sale, the storm is an unwelcome October surprise.
To underscore Romney’s dilemma from an appearance standpoint, the president is assuming control of the federal emergency response. Obama flew to Florida on Sunday night, but canceled an Orlando event scheduled for Monday morning to return to the White House to monitor the storm’s damage. Romney, by contrast, has no role other than to express sympathy.
The hurricane takes two critical states, Virginia and New Hampshire, off the campaign trail this week. The candidates simply can’t bring their Secret Service details and motorcades into storm-ravaged areas trying to cope with flooding and blackouts. This could undermine Romney’s effort to close the gap in Virginia, where the latest Washington Post poll gives Obama a 4-point lead. The president has a 2-point lead in New Hampshire, according to a PPP poll.
Both candidates are likely to double down in Ohio, which is mostly outside Sandy’s path. Obama had been clinging to a 4-point lead in that bellwether state, but a Cincinnati Enquirer survey now has them tied at 49 percent. Romney has fewer paths to 270 electoral votes without Ohio.
The storm and its aftermath could hurt Obama’s ground operation, which is widely acknowledged to be stronger than Romney’s and is a linchpin of his strategy. By sidelining staffers, and making potential voters harder to reach by phone, the hurricane could put a serious crimp in the Obama turnout machine. Obama is also banking more heavily on early voting—Maryland shut down its program for Monday—but many of the affected states have tight restrictions on such voting.
New York City and the East Coast were battered by Sandy. See the latest news.
Triumph on Nov. 6 may come down to the five Ws. From the weather (Sandy’s wrath) to waxing and waning party enthusiasm, former Bush and McCain adviser Mark McKinnon on what could seal the deal for Romney—or Obama.
It’s been an epic strategic game of Risk. After four or more long years of offensive and defensive board game moves, the generals feel powerless. (Been there.) It is now up to the troops on the ground. Turnout matters. And with a little over a week to go until Election Day, victory is but a dice roll away for President Obama or Mitt Romney. What will it take for either campaign to win? Well, it may depend on the five Ws.
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wave to supporters at a campaign event, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, at Koehler Athletic Complex on the campus of the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio. (J.D. Pooley / AP Photo)
Weather: With Sandy, the “storm of the century,” barreling toward the East Coast, targeting some 60 million people, will hurricane damage and potential power outages have an impact on early voting in the mid-Atlantic, southern New England, and inland states? Or even on Election Day itself? Team Obama is pinning its hopes on early voters; Team Romney is banking on high turnouts Nov. 6. But Sandy, like any gathering storm in the Middle East or overseas, is nonpartisan.
Wallet: No matter what “economic experts” project for GDP growth, voters vote based on what they see with their own eyes and feel in their own wallets. Rhetoric is no replacement for reality. And this is a vulnerability for the president. A majority of Americans still describe the current economic situation as poor, and likely voters now trust Romney more than Obama to do a better job of managing it, 51 percent to 44 percent, according to a recent AP-GfK poll (PDF).
Women: More women than men vote. And Obama won the women’s vote by 13 percentage points in 2008. But today, the AP poll finds Romney has closed the gender gap; women are now split evenly between the incumbent and the challenger. Although the Obama campaign discounts any poll showing the president trailing among women, the vanishing gap may be why Team Obama is focusing on abortion in the battleground states and risking the airing of the “Your First Time” video, equating voting to losing one’s virginity. Other than the devastating “Daisy” ad for the incumbent LBJ that aired only once in 1964, this may be the first presidential ad with content inappropriate for family viewing.
Waxing (and Waning): Enthusiasm is up overall among Republicans and down among Democratic voters in 2012. Many of the national and battleground state poll models are based on turnout assumptions that more closely mirror 2008, with its historic turnouts among key demographic voting blocs for Obama, than the red-tide midterm elections of 2010 or the Republican victory in 2004. But Gallup projects a more Republican electorate this year. And though Obama still has significant support among Hispanic, African-American, and young voters, ground Romney is unlikely to gain, the Republican candidate leads among independents by double digits, according to several national polls. No presidential candidate has won while losing independents by double digits since exit polling began in 1972.
Wind: Momentum matters. And right now, it looks like it is going Romney’s way. The wind is at his back. Support for Obama seems to have hit a ceiling. Polls will always tighten, but undecided voters will go with the winner.
No matter which candidate scores more Ws in his column on Nov. 6, will a truce truly be called by the next day? Or will the battle move to the courts, in a repeat of the painful days of the election in 2000, with dimpled chads, hanging chads, and pregnant chads? Having barely lived through that along with the rest of the country, I pray that the popular vote and electoral vote totals align and that the win is decisive. If not, voters may just take their tokens home and not play anymore.
Will head inland Monday.
Hurricane Sandy, which is already rearing her head in the form of flood waters in New York and Virginia, is expected to turn inland on Monday and really hit during the evening, and on Tuesday morning. As of 8 p.m. Sunday night, the storm was about 485 miles southeast of New York City, moving at 15 mph with 75 mph winds. Thousands of flights have already been canceled in preparation for the storm, as major airlines and airports halt all travel. Forecasters say the worst-case scenario has the metropolitan area of New York getting up to 11 feet of flooding.
Because of interference from Hurricane Sandy Monday.
Hurricane Sandy means business—or a lack thereof. Despite initial reports that only the New York Stock Exchange building would be closing on Monday, sources say the U.S. stock market will in fact close trading on Monday and possibly Tuesday as well. In a statement released Monday night, the NYSE said the decision is due to "the dangerous conditions developing as a result of Hurricane Sandy will make it extremely difficult to ensure the safety of our people and communities, and safety must be our first priority" and "concerns about market integrity." Much of lower Manhattan, where the Exchange is located, is supposed to be evacuated in preparation for Hurricane Sandy.
Reminds residents of their possibly imminent deaths.
And don't you fuggetaboutit. In a New Jersey weather service bulletin issued Sunday ahead of Hurricane Sandy, officials used some unusual language to try to convince those at risk to evacuate: "If you are reluctant ... think about the rescue/recovery teams who will rescue you if you are injured or recover your remains if you do not survive," the bulletin read. Meanwhile Sunday, President Obama declared New York and Washington D.C. in a state of emergency, as he and Romney both canceled campaign trail events due to the storm. As New York City begins to shut down all buses and trains, Washington D.C.—which has a flood warning—also announced it would shut all Metro service for Monday.
In states affected by the storm.
Now that Hurricane Sandy is almost upon the East Coast, Mitt Romney is canceling a slew of campaign stops in toss-up states expected to be hardest hit by the storm, according to one of his advisers. The Republican nominee was forced to call off scheduled events in Virginia, as President Barack Obama cancelled plans to fly to Ohio and Virginia for campaigning. Romney is also suspending his fundraising efforts in North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, and Pennsylvania until the storm passes.
Despite massive storm.
While most of us mere mortals are cowering at the very idea of Hurricane Sandy, Jimmy Kimmel and his producers are throwing caution to the wind. Jimmy Kimmel Live said it won't alter its plans to film this week at the Brooklyn Academy of Music starting on Monday—even though the city is shutting down its mass transit system. The cast and crew are flying to New York early, and the show is bringing in backup generators in case of a power failure. A rep for the show says they haven't had any audience members back out yet. Chris Rock, Kelly Ripa, and Stephen Colbert are scheduled as guests.
Ahead of massive hurricane.
Everybody's getting ready for Hurricane Sandy. The airlines have preemptively canceled more than 7,000 domestic and international flights set to depart Sunday and Monday, leaving passengers stranded all across the country. Roughly a quarter of the canceled flights were from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, which is expected to get hit especially hard. East coast airports are expected to decide by Sunday night whether they will close during the storm. The combination of winds gusts above 70 knots and mass transit shutdowns will likely make it difficult for the New York area airports to remain open.
Deaths reported in Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica.
While the United States prepares for Hurricane Sandy, the Caribbean is assessing the storm’s toll. 65 people have been reported dead so far across the region according to officials on Sunday. 51 of those deaths have been reported in Haiti. People in the impoverished nation are among the region’s most vulnerable, with many living in unstable structures left over from an earthquake in 2010.
As the “Frankenstorm” barrels toward the East Coast, politicians are hurrying to minimize its impact. Eliza Shapiro on what to expect: evacuations, school closures—and a possible disruption to early voting.
Anxious hurricane-watchers were granted a few brief moments of relief early Saturday when Hurricane Sandy was downgraded to a tropical storm—only to be reclassified as a hurricane shortly after.
Clouds gather over New York on Saturday. (Carlo Allegri / Reuters-Landov)
The latest tracking projections have shown no mercy, and so local and state governments are springing into action to prepare for “Frankenstorm”—a hurricane making its way up the East Coast, with a wind field extending 450 miles from its center, that is likely to collide with a separate winter storm. The terrifying combo is already being likened to the “perfect storm” of 1991.
In densely populated New York and New Jersey, which stand a good chance of getting socked, officials are urging residents to take Sandy seriously after Hurricane Irene amounted to little more than an unpleasant morning last year, despite massive power outages in suburbs across the Northeast.
“We should not underestimate the impact of this storm,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said at a press conference Saturday afternoon. “People say the weathermen always get it wrong and we’re just going to hang out and not pay attention to this. Please don’t.”
Sandy is already blamed for the deaths of some 65 people in the Caribbean; winds of 75 miles per hour were felt 100 miles from the storm’s center. Airlines are encouraging travelers to cancel their flights and eliminating cancellation fees.
Cities across the coast of the Northeast are preparing for worst: Christie declared a statewide state of emergency ahead of Sandy, which is expected to make landfall in New Jersey as early as Sunday evening.
Christie also announced on Saturday that shelter locations were open across the state with capacity for 12,000 evacuees, and warned of possible widespread power outages across the state for as long as 7 to 10 days. A mandatory evacuation order is in effect for the New Jersey barrier islands, including casino haven Atlantic City.
The Frankenstorm is canceling rallies and could black out millions during the final ad blitz. Howard Kurtz on the campaigns' new dynamics in the home stretch.
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have spent months meticulously planning the endgame of reaching enough wavering voters to eke out an Electoral College victory.
Alan Diaz / AP
And now it could all be blown away by a monster storm. If Hurricane Sandy does anywhere near as much damage as forecasters are predicting, it will upend both presidential campaigns and leave millions of voters focused more on personal misery than politics.
Oh, and have I mentioned that the media love extreme weather?
The so-called Frankenstorm is expected to make landfall somewhere between Maryland and Rhode Island on Monday, but it is so broad—with tropical storm winds covering 450 miles—that it could wreak devastation along the Eastern Seaboard and as far inland as Ohio.
This is already causing havoc with campaign schedules, forcing Romney and Vice President Biden to cancel weekend rallies in Virginia Beach and Obama to call off events early next week in Virginia and Colorado. The president is heading to Florida on Sunday night, earlier than he had originally planned.
But more than the candidates’ ability to show up in the swing states is at stake. Millions of people may be without power in the final week of the campaign. That means they won’t see the barrage of television ads that the campaigns will be unleashing, despite the fact that Mitt Romney’s team has been hoarding cash for just this moment.
Every analyst says the tight election could turn on get-out-the-vote efforts. But fewer voters might turn out if they’re worried about rotting food in their refrigerators and sleeping in cold houses. The storm could particularly set back early-voting efforts in the affected states.
Could be landing Monday.
After sweeping through the Caribbean and killing an estimated 60 people in its wake, Hurricane Sandy is posed to hammer the Eastern Seaboard as early as Monday. The sped of Sandy has declined, but is expected to pick back up and hit between Delmarva Peninsula and Rhode Island before blowing through eight states en route to Canada. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has already ordered evacuations of coastal areas and the casinos.
After hurricane leave 41 dead in the Caribbean.
The country is bracing itself for Hurricane Sandy, as the powerful storm heads to the eastern United States. After killing 41 in Jamaica, Haiti, and Cuba, Hurricane Sandy is expected to enter somewhere near Chesapeake Bay, and cover at least eight states before heading over to Canada. The storm is predicted to merge into a blizzard before then, and shower at least a foot of snow on the unlucky Northeast. Emergency preparations are being implemented, with schools pondering closure, and travelers being warned of delays. Beware, the Frankenstorm is almost here.
Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that deploys veterans to help with disaster recovery, did their part to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy in lower Manhattan last week. Team member Curtis Coleman, a former Marine, shares his thoughts on heroic leadership.
As Hurricane Sandy barrels toward the northeast, see some of the most hilarious wind-blown reports.