President Barack Obama hugs North Point Marina owner Donna Vanzant as he tours damage done by Hurricane Sandy in Brigantine, New Jersey, on Wednesday. At left is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Putting aside partisan differences, Obama and Christie toured storm-stricken parts of New Jersey together on Wednesday, taking in scenes of flooded roads and burning homes in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. (Photo : Reuters)
Days after Hurricane Sandy unleashed its wrath upon the East Coast, its effects could be felt all the way through Election Day-particularly in the polls for the presidential race.
With much of New Jersey still recovering and millions without power, state governor Chris Christie told the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that he's not sure whether polling places in New Jersey will have power by Election Day on Nov. 6.
"I'd like to have the polling places powered up for next Tuesday," Mr. Christie told reporters at an evening press conference. "I would like that. I'm not yet to the point where I know whether we're going to be able to do that or we're not going to be able to do that."
However, a contingency plan is being worked on by New Jersey Lieut. Gov. Kim Guadagno during the next two days in case people have no access to polling places with power, although the top priority at the moment is providing basic needs for storm victims.
"We'll be ready for Election Day one way or the other, and people will have the opportunity to vote in the election, but we're just going to have to see where we are," Mr. Christie said.
In addition, the storm may have hampering effects for both candidates on different fronts.
With several battleground states including North Carolina, Virginia, and New Hampshire having been effected by the superstorm, early voting has been limited in some areas due to the unsafe conditions left by Sandy's path, according to U.S. News and World Report. This could be a detriment to President Barack Obama, who was banking on massive early voting turnouts by Latinos, African Americans, youths and new voters.
In addition, the storm could reduce the number of swing-state voters on Election Day, something that could hurt both the Romney and Obama campaigns, each one focusing on a voter turnout movement for Nov. 6.
For Romney, already under fire due to recent Sandy-related questions on whether he would cut funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the added attention and screen time that President Obama has been receiving as he tours storm-ravaged states this week could be a critical blow to his campaign, taking attention away from his efforts to gain more momentum in critical swing states and other states.
Obama and Christie-a Republican who has vocally criticized Obama during the campaign-have been working hand-in-hand since the aftermath of the storm to bring relief to New Jersey residents, with Christie praising Obama and their "great working relationship," adding that the president "sprung into action immediately," ABC News reported Wednesday.
According to a recent ABC News poll, 78 percent of 1,288 likely voters between Oct. 27 and Oct. 30 rated Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy as "excellent/good."
Even Republican supporter and billionaire Donald Trump told CNBC's "Closing Bell" Thursday that the hurricane may have shifted the momentum towards Obama.
"I think it would have absolutely been Mitt Romney except for the Hurricane," Trump said of Tuesday's election. "I think the Hurricane has had a profound effect and it's going to help President Obama a lot."
Trump made headlines last week by offering to donate $5 million to a charity of President Obama's choice if the president released his college and passport records.