With the election only one week away, Washington's chattering class will be watching closely to see what impact Hurricane Sandy has at the polls. As we explained yesterday, the stakes appear highest for President Obama: While the storm gives him a stage to show off his executive skill set in a nonpartisan way, the data suggests that voters are likely to punish an incumbent for acts of God outside of his or her control, even more so if the government's response appears to come up short.
Given that, reporters and pundits have been keeping a close eye on New Jersey. While Obama is more or less assured of winning the Garden State's 14 electoral votes next Tuesday, Republican Gov. Chris Christie would appear to be the best positioned to blast the administration for any federal-response missteps given his state took the direct brunt of the storm as it churned ashore last night. So far, however, Christie, a top Romney surrogate, has been singing the president's praises.
Here's Christie on Good Morning America:
I have to say, the administration, the president himself, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far.
And on CNN's Starting Point:
I spoke to the president three times yesterday. He has been incredibly supportive and helpful to our state and not once did he bring up the election. So if he’s not bringing it up, you can be sure that people in New Jersey are not worried about that primarily if one of the guys running isn’t.
And on Twitter:
I want to thank the President personally for all his assistance as w recover from the storm.
Christie's praise stands out that much more given how quickly the New Jersey governor was to blame Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford yesterday for failing to evacuate more residents. Obviously we are all still only starting to grasp just how much damage Hurricane Sandy did on the East Coast, but Christie's praise suggests that Team Romney is unlikely to go after Obama on the issue of the federal government's storm response.