Though it’s still too early to predict how things will shake out, the race could be impacted by several storm-related factors, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
If the still-active storm dumps snow on Ohio and the Philadelphia area has serious long-term problems from Hurricane Sandy, it could affect turnout in critical swing states, Sabato said, adding that Virginia has already been impacted too.
“Given that the places that were hit hardest yesterday are less politically competitive (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut), it may not matter very much,” Sabato said. “But the storm is actually still active and may dump snow on Ohio and other areas, so that makes the storm’s impact even harder to predict. It could surely hamper turnout if there are extended power outages and lack of access to public transport in urban areas. The only swing state that has been significantly affected so far is Virginia, and we’re still assessing what parts of the state got the worst of it.”
Sabato, who said the race is now too close to call, added that President Barack Obama has an opportunity to showcase leadership but could also be hurt if the government response is too slow.
“The storm could help Romney if turnout is down in certain areas in Virginia, such as northern Virginia or parts of Hampton Roads,” he added. “It’s possible that if there are serious long-term problems in the Philadelphia area that Romney could make Pennsylvania more competitive.”
Sabato said that there is very little chance that Election Day could be moved, citing that Congress would have to convene soon and each state would have to adjust its legal code to reschedule the day.
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