Everyone has talked about an “October surprise” having a big affect on the outcome of this election, it is just that no one can pinpoint what that surprise might be. It just might be the culmination of Hurricane Sandy and two winter storms hitting the northeastern United States at one time, causing changes in campaign events, early voting and even fundraising emails. As the storms came ashore Monday morning, the fallout is deepening for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Will this storm have a lasting effect on this election and which side will be hurt the most?

Most of the polling momentum appears to remain on the side of Romney and the GOP. Making matters worse for Obama is this weekend’s shocker that several newspapers are now endorsing the challenger, including the Des Moines Register, which hasn’t chosen a Republican candidate since 1972. Other papers, like the Daily Herald in Illinois and the Naples Daily News of Florida, are endorsing Romney after siding with Obama back in 2008.

The Obama camp has been on the defensive since the first debate in Colorado. The President has been crisscrossing the country, making multiple campaign stops each day in an effort to hold onto the slim lead he had. That lead has all but disappeared, making each appearance by he and Vice-President Biden that much more important. But this “perfect storm” is causing a dilemma for the Obama camp, as he must balance his presidential duties with his campaign needs.

Romney is not immune from the storm’s impact either, as he now tries to keep campaigning without seeming insensitive to the plight of those people in the storm’s path. Both candidates have had to cancel events in the states of Virginia and New Hampshire due to inclement weather. Obama also cancelled an appearance in Wisconsin, heading back to Washington D.C.  while Romney headed to Ohio. Over the next three days, Obama will fly out to make one appearance a day while working with FEMA to manage the storm. Romney will focus on the Midwest, hitting Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa before traveling to Florida late Wednesday.

The Washington Post’s Michael Shear and Mark Landler say the storm means less campaigning but the possibility for good public relations for President Obama.

The storm has hampered Mr. Obama’s ability to campaign much more. Pursuing political gain while millions face the possibility of power outages, flooding and high winds could make the president look ineffective and uncaring.

On the other hand, the storm also provides Mr. Obama the opportunity to look presidential at a time when voters have become tired of the caustic political talk they hear in television ads and at rallies. Conversely, wall-to-wall coverage of the storm may make it tough for Mr. Romney’s campaign message to get through.

Fox News mentions the importance of both sides presenting the proper message when Americans are in danger. Even minor things like fundraising emails are getting major consideration in the days ahead.

Both the Obama and Romney campaigns were suspending fundraising emails Monday to New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia — all expected to be hit by the storm’s high winds and heavy rains. 

“The top priority is the safety and security of people who may be in harm’s way,” senior Romney campaign adviser Kevin Madden said Sunday. “So we’ll have to monitor the storm and make sure that we see if we need to make any adjustments but it’s hard to predict at this point.” 

A gut reaction says the storm’s effect will be neutralized, with neither side getting much of a bump. Obama will get a chance to look “presidential”, which he has not been able to do for the American people in the last few months (see debates and Benghazi). Obama will also miss out on opportunities to thwart Romney’s momentum in key battleground states like Virginia, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

So expect the status quo to continue, with the race coming down to the very end. However, if extra effort to get out and vote is required by people in the northeast, we then circle back to which base is more motivated to pull the lever. It seems that would mean bad news for President Obama.

Original article authored by Dave Dorsey on RightChange.com

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