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Hurricane Sandy Brewing Perfect Political Storm - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Hurricane Sandy Brewing Perfect Political Storm

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Hurricane Sandy is stopping the presidential candidates from hitting the campaign trail.  Both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney canceled rallies in the commonwealth due to the storm.

Albemarle County Republicans closed their office early Monday due to the storm, and both parties suspended door-to-door voter outreach.  Hurricane Sandy is forcing the campaigns to hurry into the final eight-day stretch.

The Obama campaign moves forward at its Charlottesville office, but the phone calls are to volunteers - not voters.

"Things are a little quieter in here today," said Charlottesville Democratic Party Chair Jim Nix.  "We're not bothering people when they should be more focused on the storm."

Hurricane Sandy is creating a perfect political storm for the presidential campaigns.  "Weather and politics can mix," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Romney is canceling rallies Tuesday in battleground states, and President Obama is forgoing the role of campaigner in chief.

"Politicking becomes second priority," Sabato said.  "First priority is the storm response, and he'll be held accountable for what happens."

Sabato says the president's response to Hurricane Sandy will affect how voters respond on Election Day.  "When people are angry and surly going into the polls, they tend to vote against incumbents," he said.

And no place is that more important than battleground Virginia.  The storm is battering northern Virginia, where Democratic candidates need votes to win.

"Virginia's the big prize," said Sabato.  "My guess is it's going to get a lot of attention from the Obama administration as soon as the storm is over.  We may get power restored in record time."

Though Albemarle County Republican volunteers closed their office a few  hours early Monday, they are keeping the phones ringing to make sure Hurricane Sandy doesn't stop voters.

"As long as we have power, we'll be making phone calls," said Albemarle GOP Chair Cindi Burket.  "We will make up the time, whatever it takes.  Once this is over, we'll do double duty to make sure everything we had planned to do gets done."

Sabato even had to cancel Monday night's "Crystal Ball Election Projections".  Those will now come out online starting Thursday.  He says the storm could make for a long Election Day if states affected by the storm open extra polling stations or extend voting hours.

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