Katie asked me, “If the hurricane hits the states from Maryland to Maine, which are mostly blue states, does that mean Obama might not win?” She's a very smart woman (with a graduate degree in Art History) but I pay more attention to politics than she does. It’s a good question to ponder as a sort of Gedankenexperiment (like what Einstein did with the speed of light). You can read my answer to her below the orange-flavored fleur-de-Kos muffin of justice.
My first reaction, off the top of my head, was to say, “Well, consider New York state. The polls say Obama will win the state by about 60% to 40% (plus or minus a few points). If some New Yorkers don’t vote because they moved inland to a hotel or to sleep on their cousin’s couch, or because they don’t have electricity or they’re cleaning up the damage and repairing their houses, the overall percentage of people voting might go down in NY. But you have to think that the non-voters would be split roughly 60-40. The storm will affect Dems and Reps equally. Obama will still win in New York, and he’ll still get all of their electoral votes.”
Second reaction: Then I thought about people who might not vote in the Frankenstorm aftermath. I said, “New York City, which is Democratic, will be hit the hardest. And there are more Republicans in upstate/outstate New York, so instead of winning 62-38 or 60-40, maybe Obama will win the state of New York by, say, 55-45, but there’s nothing to worry about. He will get the electoral votes in New York state and the northeast as long as he wins a majority of popular votes in the individual states. So there’s really nothing to worry about.”
Third reaction: I started thinking about the overall, national vote. It’s possible that all those blue states in the northeast will have lower voter turnouts on election day. If you live there and your basement was flooded and starting to get moldy, your electricity or water has been off for a week, the subways were flooded, the highways are closed, your roof was blown off, your apartment/condo window was shattered, your satellite dish was knocked over, or whatever, maybe you might not vote just because you need to concentrate on fixing things at your house. Imagine that voter turnout is a bit less in those northeastern states. But Obama still wins the electoral votes. In the meantime, lots of people vote in Mississippi, Texas, Kansas, Utah and other red states.
I can imagine a scenario where Romney wins the popular vote by a small percentage, but Obama wins the electoral vote. We all know that the electoral votes decide the election.
I’m not saying it will happen, but it’s a possibility. If Romney wins the popular vote but loses the electoral college, Republicans will be whining about it incessantly for the next four years. My reaction will be: “Oh really? Your guy won the popular vote? Now you know how I felt in 2000 when Gore beat Bush in the popular vote, but Bush won the electoral college.” Maybe I’ll add, “And I think Gore would have been ten times better than Bush. Obama is still cleaning up the mess created by Bush.” Then I will cackle, guffaw, and chortle in their pathetic little Republican faces. Maybe I'll call them a m*th*rf*ck*r. In the politest way possible.