Washington: As America copes with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy leaving a vast trail of destruction, speculation is rife as to how it would impact the outcome of the tight race for the White House.
Would a display of leadership help President Barack Obama regain his lost momentum or would a misstep aid the Republic challenger Mitt Romney. That was the question being asked by the chatterati as both campaigns cancelled events to focus on Sandy`s victims.
Saying that "The election will take care of itself next week", Obama has plunged wholeheartedly into his role as commander-in-chief after leaving the campaign trail to earn some rare praise from a harsh Republican critic, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Describing the president`s handling of the disaster as "outstanding," Christie, who was the keynote speaker at the Republican convention in August, told NBC Tuesday: "The federal government`s response has been great."
Romney has also cancelled events and attended what his campaign billed as a storm relief event Tuesday morning in the battleground state of Ohio to help collect donations for victims.
"The president`s decision to focus on the crisis could help him at the polls. Yet if the storm has a significant impact on early voting - a key part of his campaign strategy - that could depress turnout by Obama`s supporters," the Washington Post said.
President is "mindful that his performance leading the federal government response could become a major boon or liability to his re-election chances," suggested McClatchy, a leading newspaper and Internet publisher.
But New York Times` poll watching blogger Nate Silver said the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the election are hard to predict. But the storm is likely to have an impact on the volume of polling in the meantime.
Politico, an influential site focused on politics listed as many as five different possibilities ranging from it could slow Romney`s momentum by lessening his ability to campaign in states affected by the storm to giving Obama a natural advantage as he exercises his duties in response to the emergency.
The news site also suggested it could affect last-minute TV ads, as people without power won`t see them, but it won`t affect early voting much, as most of the states in the storm`s path allow such voting only for absentees. On the other hand, it could hamper Democrats` efforts to get out their vote.
Looking at the somewhat contradictory multiple choices offered by the various commentators based on their hues, Washington Post`s Dana Milbank commented wryly: "In other words: Nobody had any idea."