Last week, Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern seaboard, causing millions of people to lose power, water, heat, their homes, and, for the very unfortunate, their loved ones. This past week, a friend of mine posted a satellite image of Sandy's landfall, and I made the off-hand comment that Earth is sick of waiting for DC to do something, and so, told the politicians that climate change is still happening, even if they deny or ignore it. Needless to say, that received many likes and agreements in that conversation.
However, joking aside, it does illustrate two points: climate change contributed to upgrading Sandy to superstorm status and we should expect more hurricanes to come up the Eastern seaboard (read here, here and here). Sandy also put into action the rather large pink elephant that was mostly ignored in the presidential debates; remember when Romney paraphrased President Obama was going to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet, and instead, he [Romney] would work to help America and families? Well, since superstorm Sandy, there has been several memes, YouTube videos and so forth that attack Romney for being silent on and/or denying climate change.
So, in what ways will Hurricane Sandy influence the vote on Tuesday in favor of Obama? Well, Obama proactively reached out to the governors and mayors of each state that would be afflicted, surveyed the damage after Sandy passed, and quickly released emergency disaster relief funds to the states. The most notable case of this would be NJ Governor Chris Christie – a notable critic of Obama – who has praised the President for his leadership, insight and support. In contrast, Romney held a “storm relief” campaign, which was later found out to be staged. Romney has also stated that he would eliminate FEMA and give responsibility of disaster relief to the states; however, since Sandy's landfall, he has pedaled back from that statement.
Sandy affected 11 states –Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, & West Virginia – and the District of Columbia. Now, of those, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia usually vote Republican; the others have a strong track record of voting Democrat. Sandy's landfall was in New Jersey, but due to its 1100 mile radius, it hit several states at once, including North Carolina, and Virginia. Add to the fact that a cold front and arctic air added snowfall to interior states (like West Virginia) and further amplified Sandy, we'll see the effects of Sandy in the polls.
According to MSNBC polls, the “Sandy effect” – as its been dubbed – shows Obama taking the lead. Furthermore, looking at the FiveThirtyEight section of the NY Times, we see that Virginia – usually a toss-up state – has tilted more towards favoring Obama, with a 73% towards him. While there are concerns that due to flooding, power loss, and the ilk will keep voters away from the polls, I don't believe that will be a cause of an issue, seeing as the areas mostly devastated by Sandy – New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland – are most likely going to the Democrats à la the Electoral College.
So, what will happen tomorrow? My personal belief: Obama will win, though in narrow lead over Romney in the popular vote. In the Electoral College Vote, he'll win by a land slide. However, time will tell.