Opening Act: After the Flood

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 30 2012 8:28 AM

Opening Act: After the Flood

Ben Domenech asks, possibly too soon after a megastorm, whether we are set for an "undertow election."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

If you believe the polls, even the ones where Obama is ahead, they no longer dislike Romney as much as they once did – and they may even like him more than they do the president. As the approval advantage has evaporated to below fifty percent, no one in the old media seems to be questioning the assumption that Obama will maximize the votes of the 47-48 percent of people who still approve of him, or at least tell pollsters they do.

The third party candidate debate, previously scheduled for tonight in D.C., will happen on November 5 instead.

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Andrew Cohen profiles Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, who keeps trying to limit voters' access to the polls for some vile reason.

The 6th Circuit ruled earlier this month that [provisional] ballots now must be counted. But as late as last week, Husted and his lawyers were still in court fighting a ruling by U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley, in Columbus, who declared that registered voters in Ohio couldn't be disenfranchised because of the misdirections of poll workers. The threat of thousands of legitimate votes not being counted was not abstract but very real, Judge Marbley noted -- it had happened before, just last year, under Husted's watch.

James Galbraith asks whether income stratification will be... good for the Democrats, for one day next week.

Adam Serwer looks at the poli sci and determines that storms are usually good for incumbents, unless the damage sticks around.

"The pretty strong pattern turns out to be that all other things being equal, the incumbent party does less well when it's too wet or too dry," says Larry Bartels, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. In 2004, Bartels and his then-colleague Christopher Achen, who's now a professor at Princeton, authored a study on the impact of climate on elections. According to their study, Al Gore lost an estimated 2.8 million votes to George W. Bush in certain states because of drought or excessive rain. These are votes, the study dryly points out, that Gore could have used.

Many moons ago I wrote a post-Katrina Campaigns and Elections cover story on the same subject.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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