Could Hurricane Sandy Fuel a ‘Split Decision’ in the Presidential Race?

The Internet is buzzing about the possible ramifications of Hurricane Sandy’s destructive landfall and the prolonged cleanup that will follow.  A reported 5 million people are currently without power at the moment and New York’s ConEdison is suggesting that it make take up to 7-10 days to have everything restored in some of the areas it services.  Of course, no one considers New York to be a swing state.

The storm has already totally disrupted travel plans and upended those last minute, multimillion dollar advertising assaults that had been scheduled in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virgina, New Hampshire, and elsewhere.  Furthermore, there’s really no telling where the race stands as most polling outfits have suspended their tracking polls.  We’re flying blind with less than 7 days remaining.  Consider this, potentially, a very small bright spot for third party candidates who may be spared from a little bit of the “wasted vote” syndrome that seems to turn epidemic in the final 72 hours of a campaign that’s too close to call.

But perhaps the most interesting side effect is the vastly increased potential of a split decision — where one candidate, likely Mitt Romney, wins the popular vote and the other captures the Electoral College.    It’s an easy scenario to imagine if turnout is down sharply in safe Obama territory like New York, New Jersey,  Maryland and New England.   In what many would consider payback for 2000, President Obama could win a narrow victory while losing the popular vote by a somewhat significant margin.

It would certainly put the President in a strange position. Every modern president to be reelected — Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush — has actually polled a larger share of the vote in their second bid for office than their first, according to The Washington Post. That means every one of those presidents who was swept back into office had the opportunity to launch their second term by claiming a mandate.

Even more wild, Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd actually discussed the possibility of postponing the election on MSNBC earlier today…

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