Hurricane Sandy – Did it make a difference to Obama’s election?

November 11, 2012

There has been much speculation about Hurricane Sandy and did it make a difference in the American election.

My view is that the difference was very slightly positive for Obama, but did not impact the results in any state.  Why do I say this?

First, Obama had already been re-bounding in the polls, consistently so since early October.

Second, the Mmajor impact of the storm was primarily in states that are solidly democratic, particularly New York and New Jersey (they were voting for Obama no matter what).  So while the storm may have encouraged more of them to vote for the President and lift his total numbers, the impact on the actual race is not significant.

Third, the response to the storm certainly made Obama look more Presidential – and particularly positive in comparison with George W. Bush and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  The warm embrace by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a significant national Republican figure, certainly helped.  Romney was on the record of saying that FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Agency – should be abolished, not a popular move in the aftermath of the storm.

But this is countered by the difficulties which many people may have in voting because of power outages, lack of petrol and general destruction.  It is the poor people and minority groups who are affected by these problems more so than the rich – and the poor are much more likely to vote for Obama.

On balance – a slight plus for Obama, but no real impact on the electoral college.

Hurricane Sandy hits New Jersey

November 11, 2012

An astonishing series of satellite photos about Hurricane Sandy has been published – of all places on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) website, showing “before” and “after” of the devastation of the New Jersey shore.  You can find these here.

Superstorm Sandy and telecommunications

November 3, 2012

Lots of coverage of “Superstorm Sandy” here in Australia.  But here’s a fascinating summary of the storm and telecommunications infrastructure, supplied by the Benton Foundation (“media and telecommunications in the public interest”).  Entitled “Sandy, Sandy, my darlin’, you hurt me real bad“, it summarises the policy and operational issues (including details no-one else writes about, such as how many cable TV services were lots and how many cell phone towers were damaged) connected to the storm.  It concludes that “What this week teaches us, again, is that during an emergency, one of the most precious commodities is information and the ability to communicate it without impediments.”