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Professor Susan MacManus discusses how Hurricane Sandy will affect election, voting


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Both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney put their campaign travel on hold in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

According to the Associated Press, Obama plans to resume his campaign Thursday with stops in Nevada, Colorado and Wisconsin. Romney has planned to continue his campaign in Florida, alongside Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Jeb Bush.

In the campaign delays, both candidates have been using surrogates to represent them in their absence, said Susan MacManus, a University of South Florida political science professor.

“There are some pretty powerful surrogates out there,” she said. “If you’re a Democrat, there’s absolutely nothing less than Bill Clinton, a former president. And if you’re a Republican, there are people like Marco Rubio and governors and others that are coming to some of these states. And both of the vice presidential candidates are on the campaign trail.”

MacManus suspects that the weekend will give both candidates enough time to hit the areas they need to before the election. In terms of how the hiatus will affect the campaigns, she said Americans will be understanding.

“Certainly Americans know that we’re in the final days of an election,” she said. “But they also respect that the candidates did pull back initially as the storm worked its way through in a very catastrophic manner, unfortunately.”

MacManus said about two or three percent of voters are still undecided, depending on the state, and because of the nature of American politics, it is difficult to tell how everything will turn out.

“But certainly a gaffe or some kind of international or domestic incident could really pull those undecideds across the finish line,” she said.

Another issue the storm has created is voting access and locations. Many of the states that have been hit the hardest by the storm, MacManus said, do not have the early voting in the amounts that we see in Florida.

She said there is also the option, though unlikely, of changes or delays to election day.

“We have, of course, in Florida, seen governors extend the actual voting hours when we’ve had some weather issues, but I don’t know that we’ve had an election totally cancelled,” she said. “I think that would be a very, very difficult call. And I’m not sure who would actually do it.”

Kelsey Meany wrote this story for online.

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