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Could the “Snor’eastercane” Impact Pennsylvania Elections?

So the “snor’eastercane” maps are tilting a little too close to Pennsylvania for my liking, especially when some forecasters are concerned that if/when it does turn inland, it could be worse than Irene.

I got to thinking, what does this mean for the election? I realize that this is likely to hit a solid week before the election. However, we had parts of our suburban Philadelphia county that were out of power and still had trees blocking roads a week after Irene which was just rain, not snow. The more rural areas of any state that is hit could be out for quite a while since this is supposed to be a slow-moving storm.

If Pennsylvania takes the hit, then the areas that would be hit later and possibly longer are strong areas for Republicans. While this likely won’t impact the presidential race much since Mitt isn’t likely to win, it will likely make a big impact on the closer Senate race and, more importantly for gun owners, the largely ignored and unknown to many voters Attorney General’s race. This doesn’t even get into the many state representative and senate races across the state.

If it follows the bottom part of the cone and heads toward Virginia, well, that could impact the presidential race. During one snow storm that wasn’t totally crazy, but definitely heavier than average, none of the streets in my mom’s Roanoke subdivision were plowed for four days. During the 2008 primary, VDOT left motorists stranded on the overpasses that they failed to clear and treat during an ice storm for about a day – that was right near the DC line, not a rural corner. If there’s one thing I learned living in Virginia, that state does not handle snow clearing very well at all.

Last year, I saw tweets and Facebook updates from people in Connecticut who were out of power for the better part of a week because of storms. Even if they could get out of their neighborhoods, they few places around them had power. That’s not impossible to imagine, either. While Sebastian and I regularly walk up to our polling place, and we’d be willing to freakin’ shovel a path for ourselves and our neighbors up there this year if we had to, what if they don’t have power over a widespread area? How would counties handle that? More importantly, if they had only a few polling places open, how would voters be notified of the changes if few had power?

The good news for any weather issues is that the enthusiasm gap favors the candidates who happen to be pro-gun in this immediate area. However, the bad news is that the areas likely to have any damaged fixed or power restored last is more friendly territory for our candidates. It’s an interesting, and not impossible to imagine, scenario with a very large weather system like Sandy.

15 Responses to “Could the “Snor’eastercane” Impact Pennsylvania Elections?”

  1. Patrick says:

    Bad weather generally keeps Democratic voters at home. Won’t go into why or offer theories, but it’s pretty well acknowledged.

    But real bad weather keeps everyone in the affected area home. So if the R areas are heavily affected, then it could be bad for Romney.

    And absent a storm effect, I think Romney might do better than some suggest in the Keystone state. Team Obama/Romney seems to agree. Don’t write yourself off yet.

  2. David says:

    Here’s a comment from rural PA. Power outages are nothing we worry about. They happen all the time and we deal with them. Most critical places have back up power systems that can run for weeks. If this thing does turn towards us, I’m fully planning on power being out for a week and I’ve made arrangement to deal with that.

  3. David says:

    You guys keep writing off PA. Come out to central PA. You’ll see Mittmentum like you saw 2008 Obama fever. Pa is going to be the shocker this cycle. Tom Smith is pounding the airways here and it’s making a difference.

  4. Sage Thrasher says:

    I wish every state had vote by mail. It’s much more convenient, and you can actually take some time to do research on those down-ticket races whose candidates you never heard of–“Pookie Moonbat for Water Commissioner? WTH?”

  5. karrde says:

    I don’t know if it will help or not…

    But local Clerks that handle elections should have plans in place to cover power outage or other emergencies. I don’t know if they have any way of handling volunteer help to cover the problem.

    Of course, if the “problem” is loss of power, that is one thing. If the “problem” is impassible roads, that is something else entirely; and there is little that volunteers can do to help the State Dept. of Transportation (or regional Highway Commission).

    But if the authorities involved know that lots of locals are worried about how the coming storm might effect elections, the authorities might be motivated to do something. Hopefully something useful.

    • Bitter says:

      Yes, there should be provisions if something happens. But, the big questions would be what are those provisions and how will the public be notified?

      I know that a couple of polling places in the next town over were shut down for several hours in 2008 – one due to a gas leak and the other to a power outage, IIRC. Sebastian and I were making phone calls that election day, and we were winding down since polls were nearing closing time. However, the staffer for the location came through and not only dropped call lists for those precincts in front of us, but asked us to contact everyone we knew in that city who might live in that area to make sure they knew their polls were re-opened and staying open late because of those problems.

      But if roads are tough to pass and the power is out all day, that’s a very different scenario. If the power has been out for a week, then how will voters be informed of any changes to polling locations or times? These are the questions I have because it’s not implausible to think that, say, an entire state representative’s district could be impacted even if it’s not a massive chunk of any one state.

      Like I said, I think there’s a legitimate concern when I know that some of these states already have a crappy track record of getting roads cleared from snow and sometimes fallen trees. The other problem I see is that usually when stuff like this happens, utility crews come in from all over the country. I know my mom would regularly see fleets of southern utility crews driving up 81 when there was a massive outage after storms up here. If the outage area is widespread enough and snow-covered roads are far south enough, then that could really challenge that extra help.

  6. Jake says:

    One thing to keep in mind in SW VA is that a) there are still leaves on the trees, and b) there are still trees with damaged limbs from the derecho that hit back in June, so widespread damage and power outages are likely just from the expected winds.

    The big question is where Sandy is going to make landfall. The NOAA based model (the one pictured in the post) has it hitting up near NJ/NY, but the European model – which has been the most accurate and consistent with this storm so far – has it coming in at DE/VA and running practically right over top of DC. The Navy model is pretty much the same as the European model, too. If the cold air comes in as predicted, that combination could drop 8″-18″ of heavy, wet snow on leafy trees with already damaged or weakened limbs.

    The two big questions with the storm are 1) where will it make landfall, and b) will the resulting extensive damage be a type and in areas that will cause problems into the following week?

    • Bitter says:

      The model I screen capped here has been updated as of a little bit ago and has it making landfall at Delaware. Last update, it was the very southern edge of Delaware, now it’s the middle of the state. From what I was reading in the WSJ, they were saying that they were expecting it to largely be rain for their primary reading area (tri-state area around NYC), but that the snow will actually be in the southern part of the storm, so it could be DC-area hit heavily with snow. Connecticut folks were without power for weeks when snow hit in October last year because of the issue with leaves on the trees.

      • Jake says:

        Moving closer to the European (ECMWF) model, it looks like. That’s been the trend so far.

        After a little digging, the last ECMWF model puts the center of Sandy right over top of DC at about 0600Z (0200 local) Tuesday morning. The good news is that we’ve been pretty warm down here for the last week or so (daytime temps in the 70’s), and it looks like surface temps will be borderline freezing even during the event, so any snow isn’t likely to stick around for very long, and ground accumulations will be significantly less than the actual snowfall amount.

        It looks like WV is going to get clobbered, though, no matter what.

        • Bitter says:

          That could be unpleasant. I don’t know any polling on the races in WV, but they do have two U.S. House races where candidates refused to even respond to the questionnaire against NRA-endorsed candidates. I doubt those were competitive seats, but a big storm can really change things for candidates.

          If the storm remains big, I wonder how it will impact pockets of Ohio. Things are so close there that they really can’t afford to have any community hit. I guess the big thing will also be what happens after the 5 day path we’re seeing now. Irene really slowed down and stuck around in New England for a while, IIRC. That could impact turnout in various Congressional and state races across many states if Sandy sticks around in any area even for a couple of days.

          • Jake says:

            Not sure about OH, but here’s an animation of the storm’s projected path based on the GFS model (the model generated by the NOAA) which has landfall in NY. The really bad part is that that model projects that it’s going to actually circle over NY/NJ and eastern PA at least once.

            Personally, I think reality will end up closer to the ECMWF model than the GFS model. It’s been the most consistent and accurate so far, the Navy (NOGAPS) models have been closer to it and are currently almost the same, and even the NWS seems to be leaning more in that direction now, too (as shown by the updated map you mentioned earlier).

            • Bitter says:

              Actually, I just looked at this map of many different models and possible paths, and several (though not all are likely) show the storm turning a circle inland for a while. Unpleasantness abounds.

  7. John says:

    The states back east need to go to a mail in ballot system like we have here in Oregon. I received my ballot in the mail last weekend, had time to think (and research) who I was voting for and have already dropped off my ballot at a ballot box (conveniently located at libraries and city halls). Or I could have mailed it in.
    Being originally from NJ, I can say that I don’t miss having to deal with possible crowds and lines to vote.

    • Bitter says:

      I am a political nerd. I actually like going to vote. I used to like trying to be the first person to vote at my precinct. Sebastian is not such a fan of my eagerness to get to the polls early. :)

  8. Bubblehead Les says:

    Well, when Irene passed by, we here in BuckeyeLand didn’t have that big an issue, just some power lines down by the River. But under current Ohio Law, one can Vote Early via the Mail, or go to the Board of Elections and Vote in person. And it’s not unusual for the Liberal Judges in Cleveland to keep Precincts open until 0 Dark Thirty in the name of “Fairness.” We also have the process of the “Provisional” Ballot. That’s the one where you can Vote, but it doesn’t Count until they verify your Address, your Citizenship, etc. It’s usually just some Clerical error. That means a lot of the Votes (like my Wife and Mine’s) have already been cast. So I wouldn’t sweat the Storm.

    FYI, after the ACORN Registration Debacle in ’08, there was a Republican Sweep of the State Gooberment in ’10. So the Ohio Secretary of State is a Republican, and I think 8 of the State Supreme Court Justices are Republicans. FWIW, the Chief Justice, Maureen O’Conner had a news story a decade ago about how she liked to use the Police Pistol Range in the Akron P.D. Basement when she was City Prosecutor. She said she needed to “Stay Sharp” with her 1911. : )

    And we have had Mandatory Voter ID for awhile. So if there’s any Shenanigans, I’m sure the MSM will be screaming at the Tops of their Lungs, but it’ll probably be about “meh.”

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