On the Agenda: Hurricanes, headlines drive final week of campaign
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After spending more than $1 billion, both presidential campaigns may now be at the mercy of events beyond their control.
Hurricane Sandy seems intentionally targeting several key battleground states including Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.)
Texans will remember Hurricane Ike devastating Houston before the 2008 election. Many fled the city. Ike knocked out electricity for over a month meaning no TV, radio, email or Internet. Fallen trees and debris blocked roads for weeks. Mail couldn’t be delivered. Political organizations were left helpless in the face of a critically mauled infrastructure.
Even though Ike hit six weeks before the election, simply coping and surviving meant voters had far more important things on their mind.
So imagine what it means for Sandy to hit land not weeks but days before the election. Early voting has become more important each election cycle, but Hurricane Sandy created a new urgency to get voters to the polls before landfall.
Both campaigns will be impacted. Political ads will be walked on by urgent storm coverage. What was supposed to be a key Obama advantage of having as many as four times more field offices turning out voters in battleground states may be neutralized. On the other hand the Romney team must worry about the images of the President leading in a crisis.
Meanwhile, a slew of economic data will be released this week ending up with the unemployment report on Friday, four days before the election. There is no point second guessing which way the numbers will go and both sides will use them to make their case. It is ironic that the National Association of Manufacturers this week reported the politically induced fiscal cliff has already cost the country over one million jobs.
With all of this, there is still the opportunity for an October surprise. The classic was the indictment of Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger for his role in the Iran Contra Affair just four days before Bill Clinton narrowly defeated the first President Bush in 1992.
So stay tuned.