Hurricane Sandy: The ‘October Surprise’ Which Won Obama the Election?


Despite the fact that east coast residents feel “abandoned”

Paul Joseph Watson

With an increasing number of pundits predicting that Barack Obama will secure a second term in the White House tomorrow, one of the primary reasons for his expected victory has been identified as Hurricane Sandy, which derailed Romney’s momentum and allowed Obama to be portrayed by the media as a strong presidential leader.

While gushing over Obama’s response to the hurricane, NBC’s David Gregory pointed out that Republican Governor Governor Christie’s praise for Obama help set the stage for Obama to take center stage as part of “indelible images” that portrayed him in a highly favorable light.

Polling expert Nate Silver, who now forecasts that Obama has an 86.3 per cent chance of defeating Mitt Romney, writes today that “the historical memory of the race might turn on the role played by Hurricane Sandy.”

Acknowledging how the hurricane provided an “October surprise” that allowed Obama to get back on his feet while drowning Romney out of the headlines, Silver writes, “The theory has some appeal. The last three days of polling have brought what is almost certainly Mr. Obama’s strongest run of polling since the first presidential debate in Denver. Mr. Obama led in the vast majority of battleground-state polls over the weekend. And increasingly, it is hard to find leads for Mr. Romney in national surveys — although several of them show a tie.”

The New York Times’ John Cassidy is even more vehement in his view that the hurricane has virtually secured the win for Obama.

“After being behind in the national polls for most of October, [Obama] has now re-established a narrow lead. While there are a number of possible explanations for this turnaround, the most convincing is the simplest: his handling of Sandy has raised his standing, and his poll ratings,” writes Cassidy.

A day before the hurricane made landfall, Romney was ahead of Obama in a national average of polls by one percentage point. One week after Sandy and Obama now leads. Reflecting a national trend of the numbers going in Obama’s favor since the hurricane, Obama’s lead on the east coast jumped from 9 to 21 points.

A Pew poll taken before the hurricane showed Romney and Obama neck-and-neck at 47% but the same polling firm now has Obama ahead of Romney 48%-45% post-Sandy.

The majority of Americans polled say that Obama did a good or an excellent job of handling the hurricane, a sentiment that won’t provide much comfort for those still without power who are being forced to go dumpster diving in order to feed themselves.

Historical studies of hurricanes and other extreme weather events that occur in and around elections clearly indicate that a politician’s perceived response or lack thereof plays a crucial role in the outcome of the vote.

As Reuters’ Andrew Reeves notes, “The impact on state and local elections may take time to discern, but it is clear that Sandy put the brakes on a Romney campaign that had been gaining momentum and thrust President Obama into a leadership role. Actions the president took and images he created will help determine how voter emotions about Sandy are expressed in the voting booth on Tuesday.”

As the video below highlights, Obama’s bounce thanks to the hurricane must be more a product of  media portrayal than the reality of Obama’s actions, since many east coast residents feel he abandoned them prematurely to return to the campaign trail.


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