BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. — It’s now just a weekend and a wake-up before Election Day, and those living outside the battleground states may be forgiven for thinking that they simply do not exist.
Once the Sandy moratorium expired, the candidates launched themselves into frenetic activity, caroming like so many billiard balls between Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
It is a sign of just how close this race is that Iowa’s six electoral votes are being courted as assiduously as Ohio’s 18.
The polls provide few clues: the latest national surveys have the two men virtually tied, while the swing state polls are all over the map. According to Real Clear Politics, all the battleground states listed above are classified as “toss up.”
But Mother Nature’s October surprise may still have something to say about the outcome of the elections.
When superstorm Sandy slammed into the mid-Atlantic region, killing at least 90 people and destroying thousands of homes, she also made a host of strange political bedfellows.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg unexpectedly endorsed Obama on Thursday, citing the president’s efforts to combat global warming as one of the deciding factors.
Environmentalists are already saying that climate change is a contributing factor to the Sandy’s severity.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has become Obama’s best buddy, touring the storm’s devastation with the President on Wednesday. The former Romney surrogate has heaped praise on the president’s handling of the storm, and the president has returned the favor.
Christie, who is thought to harbor presidential ambitions, could be jeopardizing his future with this Odd Couple act. The GOP has a long and vengeful memory, as former Florida Governor Charlie Crist could attest: one hug from the president in 2009 derailed his political career. The former Republican lost a Senate race to Marco Rubio, and is now a lonely independent.
“I didn't leave the Republican Party; it left me,” said Crist, delivering a rousing pro-Obama speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest jobs figures on Friday, sparking hopes for a major boost for one side or the other.
With 171,000 jobs added in October, things are looking up, something that the Obama campaign will doubtless highlight.
The Huffington Post was jubilant: “The jobs numbers write the final chapter of Obama's winning closing argument,” wrote blogger Ian Reifowitz.
But critics will point to a slight rise in unemployment, to 7.9 percent from 7.8 last month, and will certainly reiterate their complaint that the recovery is not going fast enough.
Meanwhile, early voting continues in most of the swing states — but, again, the results are still unclear. Both sides are trying to predict their positions by looking at the numbers of Democrats or Republicans who have already cast their ballots.
"If you look at the early voting, in Nevada, Iowa, Florida, Colorado, Ohio — we feel very, very good about the numbers that we're mounting up in those states," Obama strategist David Axelrod told reporters on a Wednesday conference call.
But just a few hours later, Romney's political director, Rich Beeson, was on another conference call claiming that the Republicans were ahead in the early voting sweepstakes.
"They are underperforming their 2008 numbers and we are over-performing," he said, citing numbers in Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, and Nevada.
At this point, cutting open a chicken and examining its entrails might provide the best chance of success at predicting the outcome.