The Amazing Race: How Hurricane Sandy Scrambled the Political Landscape

NO DOUBT AWARE OF THE EXPERIENCES of his predecessors, on Monday, as the storm approached, Mr. Obama cancelled a planned campaign rally in the crucial battleground state of Florida and flew back to Washington. Even when the campaign resumed after a three-day pause, Mr. Obama’s traveling campaign press secretary made sure the public knew it was of secondary concern.

“I’ve spent the last two days with him … in between every single event, he basically walks off the stage, gets on a phone call with governors or mayors or first responders—he’s on calls in the car, he’s on calls in the plane,” Jennifer Psaki said.

Contrary to the imaginings of some right-wing conspiracy theorists, Mr. Obama didn’t engineer the storm to juice his candidacy, but he handled it magnificently, leading to a windfall of unexpected praise from one of his chief detractors, Mr. Christie. The hurricane also brought a late-breaking endorsement of the president by Mayor Bloomberg, who had previously refrained from backing either of the candidates.

“The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast—in lost lives, lost homes and lost business—brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief,” Mayor Bloomberg wrote in an op-ed on, where else, Bloomberg View.

Along with kind words from his political colleagues, President Obama also experienced something of a storm surge in public opinion polls. Mr. Romney, on the other hand, found himself politically high and dry. Like Mr. Obama’s team, Mr. Romney’s campaign made the decision to cancel several of his planned events as Sandy bore down on the East Coast Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, he and his aides hastily converted a planned Ohio “victory rally” into a “storm relief event.” According to a report in BuzzFeed, the Romney campaign hastily purchased $5,000 worth of supplies for the recovery effort to serve as props for supporters to “donate” at the event. The faux donations and blatantly political elements of the “storm relief event,” including a promotional video and “victory rally” badges handed out to reporters, led to a deluge of bad press.