Insiders Divided on Sandy's Political Impact
National Journal Insiders were divided on the political impact of Hurricane Sandy, which ripped through the East Coast earlier this week, upending the traditional final push for both presidential campaigns.
While a majority of Democrats -- nearly seven out of ten -- in the National Journal Insiders Poll said the storm would boost President Obama, almost half of Republican said it would have no effect. Very few gave the edge to Republican nominee Mitt Romney -- 16 percent of Republicans and nine percent of Democrats.
Many Insiders of both parties said the super-storm allowed the president to play his commander-in-chief card and demonstrate leadership -- a trickier task for his challenger whose full time job is to campaign.
"Being the commander in chief instead of a candidate is always a plus," one Democratic Insider said. "Add the facts that he is doing a good job and voters still remember [Hurricane] Katrina, and you might have a huge plus."
Which presidential candidate will benefit the most from disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy?
"GOP's recurring theme against Obama has been leadership.... How 'bout now?" another said.
"President Obama desperately needed an opportunity to look presidential. Disaster response might be it," a Republican Insider said. A second added: "Disaster cleanup is one of the few times people like having government around."
Another Democrat put it this way: "You can't do better than having Governor [Chris] Christie singing your praises!" referencing the GOP New Jersey's governor's public admiration for the president's handling of the storm earlier this week.
Others mentioned that Romney's comments earlier this year on reducing the federal government's role in disaster relief didn't do him any favors either.
"Obama marshaling federal resources, winning praise from GOP governors versus Romney's 'Canned-food drives can replace FEMA' attempt at relevance," one Democrat said.Several, nonetheless, said any benefit Obama might have extracted in the aftermath of the storm was canceled out by the disruptions to his campaign.
"It's a push. Obama gets to be presidential, but not in states that matter, whereas his much-vaunted ground game has been significantly interrupted," one Republican said.
"If President Obama had the empathy gene that Bill Clinton had, he would be able to turn Hurricane Sandy into political mood music. But he doesn't, so he won't," another added.
A third noted that the President was losing precious campaign time in the final days of the race: "Obama's campaign couldn't afford him not on the road."
"It's a wash (so to speak); the president gains by being presidential, but loses in early-vote activity and the possibility that power outages disrupt voting in some key states," a Democrat agreed.
Another added: "Mother Nature is an independent."