Here's a sampling of some opinions on how Hurricane Sandy could effect turnout, getting out the vote, and state-by-state electoral politics.
"Delaware is Democratic. New Jersey is Democratic. Where it might hurt Republicans might be North Carolina and it might hurt both equally in Virginia which has become a very 50-50 state despite being in the Southern Confederacy."
- Steve Pigeon, strategist, former Erie Co. Dem. Party Chair
"Certainly the ground game is going to be that much more important in the presidential campaign (now) and it is going to be that much more harder to get people to come out and vote."
-- Ralph Mohr, Erie County Elections Comm.
"I don't think it will make an impact in the ultimate decision that New York State will make."
- Bob Davis, former Erie County GOP Chair
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from CBS News.com:
Five battleground states - New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia - are now recovering from Sandy. Below you will find information on how the storm has impacted the ability of those states to hold their elections next Tuesday, as well as the impact on in-person early voting in the states that allow it.
No in person early voting. CBS News estimates 10 percent of votes will be cast before Election Day.
Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan tells CBS News that emergency management services expect power to be restored by Friday - so he is not worried about Election Day. Most of the polling places have backup generators in the event that power is not restored, and the state will work with polling places to get backup power to those polling places that do not. All ballots in the state are paper ballots, but about half of polling places use optical scanners. If the power is out, counting would have to be done by hand.
In person early voting. CBS News estimates 50 percent of votes will be cast before Election Day.
Some of the early voting sites that were scheduled for operation on Saturday and Sunday were closed as a result of the storm, according to Johnnie McLean, the deputy director of the board of elections, and others had their hours shortened. (Some were also closed early yesterday because of flooding.) Officials are now monitoring the situation in the western part of the state, but there is now only one site that has reported plans to close early today due to ice on the roads.
As for Election Day preparations, the storm has put a little bit of a slowdown on the process. Officials were still in the process of training poll workers for next Tuesday's election. Some sessions that were scheduled for yesterday or today had to be canceled and were rescheduled for Thursday or Friday of this week.
Damaged polling places will be examined on a case-by-case basis, and county boards have emergency plans that have been adopted. If a polling place is deemed to not be safe, then the executive director of the state Board of Elections has emergency Election Day authority to allow the temporary transfer of voters from one polling location to another.
In person early voting. CBS News estimates 30 percent of votes will be cast before Election Day.
There was one county, Erie, without power this morning, but it has since been restored. Early voting places have not been affected.
No in person early voting. CBS News estimates 5 percent of votes will be cast before Election Day.
They don't have early voting in Pennsylvania, but the governor has ordered an extension of the deadline for counties to receive absentee ballot applications. The deadline was supposed to be today, but some county boards of elections were closed yesterday and today. The deadline has been extended for each day an office was closed.
Ron Ruman, director of communications for Pennsylvania's Secretary of State, said officials had a briefing with utility and emergency managers this morning and the crews are now working to restore power. Utilities will focus on restoring power to polling places after they take care of vital locations such hospitals. Officials are optimistic that by Election Day no polling places will be affected.
If there are polling places that are damaged or without power, the county board of elections will have a contingency plan that may involve moving the location. Ruman says there are roughly 9,300 precincts in Pennsylvania and it's not uncommon for two to four to have to move. Polling places that are moved will likely have signs and perhaps poll workers at the old location directing voters to the proper place.
In person absentee ballot voting only. CBS News estimates 12% of votes will be cast before Election Day.
Virginia has in-person absentee voting, though you have to have one of 19 approved reasons for voting absentee. Of 134 localities, 9 were not operating for the majority of today. Of 134 localities, nine were not operating for the majority of today. Of the nine affected, two are in the southwest (which was hit by snow), one is on the eastern shore, and six are in Northern Virginia, the president's stronghold. Nikki Sheridan of the state board of elections says officials are hoping all locations will be back online tomorrow. And since many of the polling places are schools, they are a top priority anyway.
The Secretary of State has asked those localities affected by the storm to extend absentee voting hours over the course of the remaining voting period, which ends on Nov. 3rd. Today was also the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot and in localities that were closed to the public, the deadline has been extended to 5pm on the next day with normal operations.
While there has never been as severe a weather event so close to the election, there is a general conception that weather does have an effect on turnout.
A 2009 study of all the academic work on the topic says for the most part, the weather and turnout linkage is exaggerated in local elections, but can matter nationwide when you add in all the electoral college math:
"We find that this four-point swing in turnout causes an average change of approximately 20 Electoral College votes per election," writes Brad Gomez of the University of Southern Florida.
READ THE STUDY HERE
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From the NY Times:
Elections officials in states battered by Hurricane Sandy were asking themselves how to get ready for Election Day.
Analyst Jeff Greenfield writes on Yahoo.com:
Why Hurricane Sandy might cost Obama the popular vote—but not the presidency
"We don’t have to turn to “what-if” questions (much as I enjoy them). The storm will likely have a measurable impact on next Tuesday’s voting... And this year, the impact of Hurricane Sandy makes it more likely that we’ll see a presidential election where the winner winds up winning fewer votes than the loser."
2012: The Year of The Politically Ill Timed Hurricane
NRO's politics blog argues that the Hurricane might play a role, but is only one of several late season storms that are tilting the results toward Republican Mitt Romney.
From The Nation:
"It may seem bizarre that something like the weather would affect who lives in the White House come January. But freak events like Sandy aren't the only kind of weather that affects voters' decisions.
There's evidence voters even punish incumbents for harsh weather over the course of an election year, despite it being by definition out of politicians' control."
So if this lowers turnout a bit in states like Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Hampshire, the first guess would be that it’s bad news for Obama. But right now Romney’s on a (metaphorical) wave."
The Washington Post Political Blogger Chris Cilizza writes :
Five places where Hurricane Sandy could affect the election1. Philadelphia: "This is where Democrats win elections in Pennsylvania, and it’s smack-dab in the middle of where the hurricane is supposed to make landfall.
2. Boston: "If power goes out on Romney HQ, how can it run a real campaign?
3. Southwest Virginia: The most conservative part of this very important swing state appears primed for a sizable snowstorm. Losing power is one thing, but not being able to get to the polls s another.
4. Western and Coastal North Carolina :"If the storm hits hard enough in the western and eastern parts of the state and leaves the more urban middle parts of the state alone (Raleigh and Charlotte, for instance, are only under wind advisories), that probably hurts Republicans more
5. Ohio: It seems apparent this the storm could affect more Obama voters than Romney voters in Ohio. And again, early voting is in full swing here, so every day matters.