Hurricane Sandy has blown away a good chunk of the final run-up to the election. No Barack Obama or Mitt Romney on the hustings, no new tracking poll data, no new ads—wait, scratch that last one.
The big stuff holds. Obama's off the campaign trail and so is Romney. Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters on a conference call today that "we continue to believe that on the ground we're going to be able to turn out our voters in the these final days. We feel very good about our ground game." He added: "We just want everyone up there and across the country to be very safe."
Of course senior strategist David Axelrod couldn't resist an implicit shot at Romney on the conference call. "As far as the president goes, he has real responsibilities, and those responsibilities come first," Axelrod said, the implication being that Romney lacks real responsibilities. Indeed, most analysts agree that to the extent that anyone gains from this functional suspension of the campaign, it will be the president—he gets to be presidential while Romney has, as they say, no real responsibilities. He's done what he can—reaching out to authorities in affected states—but as Buzzfeed's Zeke Miller reports, he only seems to be reaching out to Republican governors.
Late in the morning, the Romney campaign released a statement saying that Romney and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's events are canceled for this evening. This one-ups the Obama team, which still has Vice President Joe Biden out on the campaign trail, not to mention former President Bill Clinton (Clinton's GOP counterpart is of course absent from the trail, so no campaigning for him to suspect or not).
The candidates aren't the only ones suspending their activities. Gallup and IBD/TIPP have announced that they're halting their tracking polls (who knows, maybe Gallup can use the rest given the extent to which their numbers have been outliers this cycle).That's right, political junkies: You're going to have to go cold turkey for a few days. (And if that's the biggest loss you experience over the next couple of days ... be thankful.)
In the mean time, both campaigns are encouraging people to help those affected by the storm. Obama, for example, sent an E-mail to supporters telling them where to get information about hurricane preparation and linking to a Red Cross donation page.
Of course politics doesn't completely stop. As I mentioned, Biden remains loose on the stump. And the Obama campaign released a new ad today roasting Team Romney for its misleading claim that Chrysler is about to send manufacture of Jeeps to China. (Romney's closing with another blatant, widely-discredited lie? That's the appropriate way to go out—stay classy, Team Romney.)
Politics will ramp back up as the hurricane dials down. In the mean time, stay safe.