Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What Hurricane Sandy means for election 2012

There has been a lot of speculation about the hurricane that hit the east coast Monday and what it means for the upcoming presidential election.  While I certainly don’t have the answer, I’m going to throw my hat into the ring of speculation.  I hope you do the same.

I want to start by offering my sincerest condolences to those struggling with the loss of power, property and, worst of all, life from Hurricane Sandy.  We must remember that an election, while important, is not as important as people.  There are a lot of things you can do to help with disaster relief – things as small as giving blood locally and as big as going out to help with clean up.   For information on how to help or to donate, visit the Red Cross hurricane page here.

Now when it comes to the election, many began to wonder if the election date would be moved.  This seems incredibly unlikely, although certain counties could change polling locations if your local site was destroyed.  Even some of the hardest hit places in New Jersey don’t seem to be phased.  The election has been placed on the back burner while officials are concerned with flooding and clean up, but in a recent CNN article, New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie (R) said “the election will take care of itself.”

In my opinion, there are two factors which could actually impact the election, and they’re things that BOTH parties should be worried about.

First is who was impacted.  Try to stay with me here (and certainly feel free to give your own input in the comment section below).

Many studies have found that “working class” individuals tend to identify with the Democratic Party (Cooper, 1961; American Government and Politics Today, p. 195; etc.).  

Electoral map of parties by population
This map also shows how largely populated urban centers, which also tend to have lower socioeconomic status, are largely Democratic while rural areas swing Republican.

So why does this matter?  Well, those affected by Hurricane Sandy largely live in these urban hubs. In these areas, people whose homes have been destroyed, who are struggling to rebuild or may have even fled the area, these are the people who are not concerned with getting to the polls right now.  They’re not the millionaires who have three other homes to go to.  These are working class people who don’t have a car now because theirs was flooded, or who are trying to get their children to school.  These are also the Democratic voters.  If these people are not hitting the polls with less than a week to go, the Democratic Party could take a HUGE hit, largely affecting the vote.  Many states get the blue vote because of these metropolitan votes.  If this goes away… who knows what will happen.

But on the other side, President Obama has really stepped up his game during Hurricane Sandy.  He’s taken a step away from being candidate Obama and has fully embraced his President Obama role.

Gov. Christie is a huge voice in the Republican Party and has always criticized the President.  Today, in the wake of the hurricane and devastation in his state, Christie raved about Obama’s response, saying Obama was “outstanding.”   Christie also dropped this gem on Fox and Friends:

Christie’s rave review of Obama’s response to the storm could actually give the president a bump.  With Christie being so vocally opposed in the past, this turn around so close to the election could give Obama a boost from Independents and Republicans who have been on the fence.

There is so much to take into consideration with a devastating storm so close to a major election.  I think we’ll go ahead as planned on Nov. 6, but I will be very interested to see how this election pans out.

What do you think?  Will flooded cities affect the Democratic vote?  Will Republican praise of Obama sway the Republican vote?  Keep the conversation going in the comments section below!

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