Slatest PM: Sandy Isn't Done Yet

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 30 2012 4:51 PM

Slatest PM: The Sandy-Isn't-Done-Yet Edition

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Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

THE AFTERMATH: With the superstorm formerly known as Hurricane Sandy no longer hammering New York City and the rest of the major East Coast media markets, it seems most reporters have been free to tackle one of two Sandy-related stories today: The physical impact the storm is having on American lives and infrastructure; or the possible impact it will have on next week's presidential elections.

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WE'LL START WITH THE FORMER: (Via the Associated Press): More than 100 people were killed by the storm, with at least 39 of those deaths occurring in the United States; more than 8.2 million people between North Carolina and Maine are currently without power; roughly 15,000 flights have been canceled worldwide; New York City's subways have been shuttered for the foreseeable future; and Atlantic City and other parts of New Jersey's coastline appear to have been devastated. The storm is expected to cause about $20 billion worth of property damage before all is said and done, along with another $10 billion to $30 billion in lost business.

ABOUT THAT DEATH COUNT: How do you know a death is storm-related? Slate's Brian Palmer has your answer.

THE HARDEST HIT: New Jersey, which faced the brunt of the superstorm while it was still a hurricane, appears to be in the most shambles at the moment. "We are in the midst of urban search and rescue. Our teams are moving as fast as they can," Gov. Chris Christie said today. "The devastation on the Jersey Shore is some of the worst we've ever seen. The cost of the storm is incalculable at this point."

NOT OVER YET: During an unannounced trip to the Red Cross' D.C. headquarters, President Obama declared that "the storm is not yet over" and warned of the possibility of more flooding and damage in the coming days.

WHAT THE STORM LOOKS LIKE AT THIS VERY MOMENT: Google's crisis map continues to offer the best real-time snapshot.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR SANDY?: The New York Times: "The storm, though vastly weaker than it was when it made landfall in New Jersey on Monday night, is moving west through southern Pennsylvania, bringing rain and high winds all the way to the Great Lakes, the National Weather Service reported. The system continued to pack winds of 65 miles per hour. ... Forecasters said on Tuesday that they no longer expected the storm to turn to the northeast and travel across New England. Instead, the track has shifted well to the west, and prediction models suggest it will move through central Pennsylvania and western New York State before entering southern Ontario by Wednesday, said Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami."

HAPPY TUESDAY and welcome to The Slatest PM, where your afternoon host hopes you all are safe, warm and dry—and that if you're not, that you at least have a good story to tell. Follow @JoshVoorhees on Twitter or send him an email at josh.voorhees@slate.com.

TEAMWORK: The White House said today that the president will travel to New Jersey tomorrow to join Gov. Christie for a firsthand look at the damage. The announcement comes the same day that the Republican governor heaped praise on the president for how the federal government responded to the storm.

WHICH BRINGS US TO THE SECOND STORY LINE: Christie's comments highlight the difficult position that Team Romney is in with one week until Election Day. The storm has afforded the president a nonpartisan stage to display his executive leadership chops, while at the time largely forcing Romney to tread carefully on the campaign trail lest he be accused of being insensitive to those affected by the storm. Of course, it isn't exactly clear sailing for the president either, largely because its unclear what else Mother Nature has in store for those areas that have been (or will be) hit by Sandy.

THE POLITICS OF ANTI-POLITICSPolitico's Jonathan Allen: "For all the talk of how the presidential campaigns would be frozen by Hurricane Sandy, the reality is this: They’ve simply shifted gears. ... When it comes to natural disasters, neither side can afford to get tagged as overly political. So both campaigns tried to show they were putting the needs of storm victims first. The reactions to Sandy reinforce the notion that every move in a presidential campaign is viewed through a political prism—by the candidates, by the strategists and by the voters they seek to sway."

A SANDY SPLIT: National Journal's Major Garrett: "Storm-diminished turnouts in [Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York] could cost Obama tens of thousands of popular votes. It could also cost him 20 electoral votes in Pennsylvania. The implications are obvious in Virginia as well, but that state was always going to be close and the margin of victory understood to be narrow. There are ways Obama can win without Virginia but not many without Pennsylvania. The chance of a Romney popular-vote victory and Obama Electoral College victory were always statistically and mathematically remote. The chances of the opposite occurring were always easier for me to see. And Sandy may alter that terrain in ways that prove more harmful to Obama than Romney."

MORE OF SLATE'S SANDY COVERAGE:

Stay safe. We'll see you back here tomorrow. But until then, tell your friends to subscribe, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.

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