In the next several days and possibly up to Election Day, expect President Obama's numbers to take a dive in the national tracking polls, as response rates in the Northeast plummet.
Believe me, as someone who lives in New York, and did did ID calls for local candidates around the time of last year's freak late October winter storm, response rates went to nearly zero during this time
Right now, people in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, and New Jersey, etc are piling into grocery stores clearing the shelves of all the canned and dry goods they can find. They're filling they're cars will bottled water. They're bouncing from one Home Depot to the next trying to find a store that has not sold out of emergency generators. They're filling their trunks with sandbags from their local highway departments.
In other words, no one is home. So no one is picking up the phone.
When they do get home later this evening, they are not going to want to talk about politics. They're concerned for their well being and have other things on their mind. Again, this is not just conjecture on my part. I remember people (mostly politely) telling me last year around the time of that freak winter storm that they "just aren't interested in discussing politics right now." Contact rates were non-existent. So we just stopped calling altogether.
During the storm itself, of course, no one will be responding for much the same reason.
In the storm's aftermath, this region will have massive power outages, so phones will be down across the northeast. And again, those who are reachable will probably not want to discuss politics.
Since the Northeast is one of the most heavily Democratic areas of the country, low response rates here will probably shift the tracking polls measurably in Romney's direction.
So just thought I'd toss this out there, since I haven't seen any other diary touch on this subject yet.
I know it might seem absurdly trivial, and maybe a bit callous, to talk about the political horserace in the context of a natural disaster where lives are at risk. But, I think this matters. The horserace defines the narrative of the media to a certain extent, and the political narrative affects the outcome of the election. And the outcome of the election, of course, matters a great deal.