So, we’ve all been waiting for the “October Surprise.”
What would it be? An Israeli attack on Iran? A U.S. attack on Iran? Some other big news that completely changes the dynamics of the election?
Or is it . . . the weather?
In his Weather Journal column today, Kevin Myatt looks at a big storm that’s taking shape and could bring snow — yes, snow! — to much of the East Coast.
I call your attention to this line:
“And, of course, its potential timing a week before the presidential election could have national implications, especially if there are still large areas without power or with travel hindrances on Election Day.”
I’ve talked with Kevin and he cautions that there’s still a lot of time for things to take shape, or not — but one scenario does call for the storm to dump snow on parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and elsewhere.
Hmmm. We’ve heard those states in the news a lot lately, now haven’t we?
And even if there’s not snow, there’s likely to be wind, lots of it, too — and we saw this past summer what wind can do to trees and power lines.
So what if some localities in those key swing states are still immobilized on Election Day? Who does that help or hurt?
The short answer is, depends on where they are.
The conventional wisdom for years has been that bad weather hurts Democrats more than Republicans — on the theory that Republican voters are more likely to have cars, while Democratic voters might include a fair number of poor people or older voters who don’t have access to transportation.
The reality, though, is probably far more complex. Older voters, for instance, seem to track more for Romney than Obama. By that reasoning, bad weather would seem to hurt Republicans. On the other hand, bad weather would also seem to depress the voters who are the least enthusiastic about going to the polls — and this year the enthusiasm edge seems to be on the Republican side. So by that score, bad weather would seem to hurt Democrats by giving some of their people another reason not to go to the polls.
Another way to look at it — perhaps a better way — is geographically. Urban areas are more likely to dig out of a storm sooner than rural areas, right? Since rural areas are presumed strong for Romney, that means a blanketing storm would hurt Republicans — their voters would be stuck, while Democrats in the city are moving around and getting to the polls.
On the other hand, let’s invoke the words of the great philosopher, and country musician, Hank Williams Jr.: “A country boy can survive.” I live out in rural Botetourt County. I remember many a storm where I was able to dig out and get to work in downtown Roanoke — only to find the streets in the city a slippery, unsafe mess, with many of my urban colleagues still stuck at home.
Salem, of course, is always the exception; that is the city that, we must remember, sent snow plows into Roanoke one year to clear a path for a team bus to get to the Stagg Bowl because the Star City hadn’t gotten around to the job yet. I have no doubt that streets in Salem will be perfectly clear for Election Day, no matter what!
Anyway, this storm is something to keep an eye on — which can you do over on Kevin’s Weather Journal blog, where he’s posting regular updates. For the record, his latest post ends with this advisory:
“Let’s just keep an eye on it and try not to run with the hype that is inevitable and already ongoing.”
– Dwayne Yancey