Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

The East Coast is still recovering from the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy last week. As a precaution, University administrators canceled classes Oct. 29 and 30. Thankfully, Providence emerged relatively unscathed from the storm, and life at Brown resumed quite normally. The same cannot be said, though, for New York City and New Jersey and other hard-hit areas in the mid-Atlantic region. Coney Island and other low-lying districts were overwhelmed by 14-foot storm surges. The neighborhood Breezy Point in Queens was destroyed by fire. Parts of the New York City metropolitan area are still without power. Gas stations that still have fuel are now rationing supplies for long lines reminiscent of the 1970s oil shocks.

National attention in the aftermath has been focused on recovery efforts in America's premier metro area. Though politicizing natural disasters goes against common decency, Sandy has coincided with the very last stages of the 2012 presidential election, and the two are now inextricably linked. The recovery from the hurricane has been the last major issue for candidates to tackle as the election approaches.

Due to our Electoral College system, the election results will not be skewed by states still devastated from Hurricane Sandy. New Jersey has been deploying military vehicles to powerless and flooded communities to serve as polling places. But even if turnout is diminished due to the lasting effects of the storm, only the popular vote will be altered and not the all-important electoral vote. 

The Northeastern Seaboard almost uniformly consists of blue states, and it is expected that Obama will maintain his stronghold in the coastal regions. Sandy's lasting legacy on the American presidency is not the physical toll visible in New York, but rather its effect on the national psyche in the midst of a divisive political battle.

The hurricane has shifted the national dialogue in a direction that may help an incumbent Obama stay in office. A poll by NBC/Wall Street Journal shows a 68 percent approval rating for Obama's handling of the hurricane among likely voters. But why should a natural disaster matter so much for both candidates?

In the event of a destabilizing hurricane, or any natural disaster, the commander in chief is expected to shepherd the country and protect its people. After the United States inexplicably allowed a major port city to be razed and left helpless by Hurricane Katrina, both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard did much to improve national emergency response. As a result, Obama has been visible as an active leader and not merely a campaigner during this past week. 

Obama received effusive praise from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been an avid supporter of Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Citing climate change issues, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially endorsed Obama for re-election. As sitting president, Obama has received a level of momentum almost unprecedented at this stage in the presidential election.

Meanwhile Romney, who does not wield national executive power, can only stand idly by while Obama does his job. Even Karl Rove pointed out that "if you hadn't had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the Romney campaign to talk about the deficit, the debt, the economy. There was a stutter in the campaign." Given this slight disadvantage, Romney can still emerge victorious, but a new focus on environmental and natural disaster issues does not help the Republican base. During his campaign, Romney has declared he would slash FEMA funding by 20 to 40 percent, as opposed to Obama's suggested 3 percent cut. The aftermath of this disaster has shown that Romney's plan may not be the wisest choice. 


Editorials are written by The Herald's editorial page board: its editors, Daniel Jeon and Annika Lichtenbaum, and its members, Georgia Angell, Sam Choi and Rachel Occhiogrosso. Send comments to


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.