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How Hurricane Sandy Could Affect the Election in PA


Hurricane Sandy, the Frankenstorm, is forecast to slam all of Pennsylvania from Monday through Wednesday. Effects like heavy wind and rain are expected across the state, including heavy snow in western Pa.

Hopefully for everyone’s sake, the doomsday predictions won’t come true. But if the worst happens, it will have political consequences as well as humanitarian ones.

Here’s why the storm is news bad for Democrats:


The City of Brotherly Love is straight in the path of the storm, and some predictions indicate that Philly could see as much as 8-10 inches of rain in the 48 hours it takes to storm to move through. Flooding and power outages could affect the region for days.

It goes without saying that Philadelphia is Democrats’ base in Pa., and statewide candidates are relying on strong turnout there to seal the deal.


Both parties boast a strong get-out-the-vote apparatus, but the reality is that Democrats are far more organized in Pennsylvania. Republicans compensate for it because their voters generally require less coaxing and are more likely to turn out any given election.

But because they have such an edge, Democrats are relying more on their field program. GOTV is a science for team Obama and they have calculated how many times they need to call, mail, email and knock on the doors of their supporters to boost turnout. A large natural disaster, which could knock out power and telephone service for large areas, could throw a wrench in all of that.

Plus, many down-ballot Dems in Pa. are relying on his field operation.

The Corbett Effect

For statewide and legislative candidates on the Dem side, tying their opponents to Gov. Tom Corbett has been political gold. But that dynamic could change in an instant, as it did after the catastrophic Pa. floods of 2011. Voters overwhelmingly agreed Corbett handled that disaster well, and he earned an immediate and significant bump in the polls – including a sharp spike in northeast Pa., the area most affected by the flooding.

Last-minute campaign messaging is already in production or on its way out the door. Any campaign ads or literature that use Corbett as a bogeyman, should 2011 repeat itself, will not be nearly as effective and could even backfire.

Here’s why the storm is bad news for Republicans:

Looking Presidential.

Managing a natural disaster is one of the most visible roles of the federal government and the President. Just like Corbett, President Obama could see a bump in Pa. if the perception is that he’s doing a good job managing the storm and its effects.

If the worst happens, don’t be surprised to see the President on the ground in Pa. for a post-disaster press conference and photo op.

Disaster Coverage

Flip on any cable news station, and you’ll see how quickly coverage can change. Where for the past two weeks the cameras have been on the candidates 24/7, now the news is split between the campaign and Sandy. In the event of a disaster the campaign will get far less airtime.

Negative ads also run a higher risk of seeming tone deaf.

That means it will be harder for any candidate looking to close the gap in the final week. In Pa., Mitt Romney, Tom Smith and Dave Freed are all playing catch up with their Democratic opponents. They’ll have less news coverage and less earned media if the Pa. press switches focus to a disaster.

TV Ads

Going along with the idea that Republicans are running from behind in Pa., it goes without saying that if there are widespread power outages that television ads and spending will be nullified.

Conversely, campaigns able to afford ads on local news channels will see more bang for their buck as larger segments of the population tune in.

Rural Voters

When you hear about people being without power for a week, usually they’re talking about those who live in the “T” in central and northern Pa. Those voters trend sharply Republican. And though the population is less concentrated there, the possibility exists for a widespread power outage.

8 Responses

  1. I think politicians will continue to ignore and/or deny global warming until they see a way they can use it to further their personal ambitions. The same will hold true for the people who control the large corporations that fund them

  2. I agree with Judy that the break from all the negative adds is a welcome respite. I do think she’s at risk of getting taken in by the image, when the reality may be far less attractive.

    bo38637 may be right about (I’ve never watched it).
    But s/he’s seriously delusional about the middle of his/her message. Anyone who would like to be employed needs to worry about the health of employers. And most of the employers are small business people who make far less than his/her mythical million dollars. They are also the people who suffer now under Obama-nomics and will be wiped out under the regime bo38637 seeks.
    S/he is right that it’s not a black/white/brown thing. If I were going to make any correction, it would be that the privileged are better able than the poor to ride out the economic self-destructiveness of the Obama regime.

  3. I’m guessing that if power goes out around the state, that Corbett’s plan is to restore power to Philadelphia last. 🙁

  4. Really the Blaze for an objective and bias opinion. I am never amazed at how many *** the GOP brainwash. If you do not make over 1 million dollars and are not a CEO you are voting against your own interest. I will be waiting to hear the thud when you jump out the window and job lowers your wages or go to China. Keep thinking black, white, brown . But dumbazz it is about green.

  5. It’s no wonder you think BHO is the man, if you are watching his minions at CNN & MSNBC. They don’t cover the negatives on BHO. Try the for a change. You will have your eyes opened, but you probably don’t want that. Enjoy your delusions about BHO & the Democrat Party.

  6. Maybe people need to get away from the negative ads for a few days and get all of that negativity out of their minds. Maybe this storm is happening for a reason. I am watching CNN and MSNBC and enjoying no ads. Was nice to President Obama on there talking to the American people regarding the storm. I think he is the man.

  7. Nice analysis

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