RIA Novosti, Russia
The Impact of Sandy on America’s Electoral Landscape
By Oksana Polishchuk
As of yet, the actions of the leader of the White House have not incited the complaints of his fellow countrymen. Moreover, even the Republicans are admitting that the president is doing everything right. Obama has put aside his presidential campaign and declared it a top priority to ensure the safety of the nation’s residents and minimize the negative effects of the hurricane.
Translated By Dagny Dukach
31 October 2012
Edited by Jane Lee
Russia - RIA Novosti - Original Article (Russian)
Sandy, the most destructive hurricane in recent American history according to experts, could impact the election campaign and have an effect — if not a decisive influence — on the balance of power in this presidential race.
But which aspect of this has been most destructive to the U.S.? Sandy, though demoted to the rank of a tropical storm, is still blowing strong, continuing across America. Meanwhile, experts state that overcoming the consequences of this natural disaster will cost insurance companies at least $20 billion. However, due to the timely organization of evacuations from the dangerous areas, U.S. authorities were able to minimize the number of casualties of the storm. So far, we are aware of 45 deaths in the entire region struck by this disaster. In the same length of time during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, several thousand people were killed in the city of New Orleans alone.
Has Obama passed the test of this hurricane? After all, Sandy can of course be considered not only a natural disaster, but also yet another test of strength for current U.S. president, Democrat Barack Obama. Voters’ reactions will no doubt depend on how Obama and the administration that works under him react to the blow of this disaster, how quickly and to what extent measures are taken to support those in need. (More than 8.2 million Americans are currently without electricity.)
As of yet, the actions of the leader of the White House have not incited the complaints of his fellow countrymen. Moreover, even Republicans are admitting that the president is doing everything right. Obama has put aside his presidential campaign and declared it a top priority to ensure the safety of the nation’s residents and minimize the negative effects of the hurricane. The president was in constant contact with the governors of those states that felt the brunt of the disaster, establishing himself as a true commander-in-chief and leader of the nation. In response, the governor of New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie, publicly praised the actions of the president. Thus it is possible that as a result of Sandy, Obama’s candidacy as a contender for the U.S. presidency will be strengthened.
And what is Romney doing? While the duty of the current U.S. president is to care for the country, it is both harder and simpler to say what a presidential candidate should be doing. Like his rival, Obama’s opponent Republican Mitt Romney briefly put his nationwide campaign tour on hold and kept well-informed on the movement of the hurricane as well as on the measures being taken to combat it at the federal, state and local levels — essentially performing presidential duties. However, the lack of actual opportunities to lead the country allowed the Republican to resume campaigning a day earlier than his rival: On Wednesday, Romney was already off to Florida, a key state in this election, where he will hold three events. Romney is currently in Ohio, where he has started a fundraiser for victims of Sandy. He has further stated his intention to participate in a similar campaign in Florida. However, he refused to answer journalists’ questions regarding whether, in light of the storm, he will continue to insist on budget cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as he had proposed earlier in his campaign.
What could harm Obama? In America’s recent history, the popularity of the president in 2005 was literally blown away by a hurricane. In that instance, it was a delay in the provision of assistance to victims of powerful Hurricane Katrina that brought the ratings of George W. Bush, then head of the White House, to an all-time low. And Americans remembered the mistakes of that Republican administration for a long time. It is obvious that the current administration will make every effort to avoid something like that, especially when the elections are less than a week away. (They will take place on Nov. 6.) Nonetheless, Obama might be hurt by the fact that the effects of the hurricane may negatively impact voter turnout. This is indirectly confirmed by the closing of many early voting stations.
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