A huge swath of the American people are now scattered, relocated, distracted, and worried about bigger things than politics and will be over the next few days as Hurricane Sandy hammers the East Coast. There’s talk that states as far inland as Ohio could feel a residual effect of the storm, which means that in a country where polling is already all over the map, it’s not going to get much better.
Collecting data in parts of the country hit by the hurricane will make national polls difficult to tabulate. With such a large part of the country under siege and other parts not, there’s really no way to assume we’re getting an accurate reading of what’s really happening. Moreover, if the reports are correct and states like Ohio will be affected, that also means the swing states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Michigan, and Florida will be difficult to poll.
Outside of the presidential election, there’s a countless number of local and state races that will be even more difficult to poll, especially those directly impacted by the storm.
There’s been talk that some pollsters might suspend their work for the next couple of days, which makes sense. Not only will the data collected be under less than optimum — and therefore accurate conditions, but the last thing these storm-ravaged areas need are distractions in the form of phone calls from pollsters. It would also be a good idea for pollsters and all of us to not tie up any phone lines unnecessarily.
From all accounts, Sandy’s worst still lies ahead, and already the flooding, especially in New Jersey, has been brutal. There will be plenty of time for politics once this storm passes.
God speed to all those in Sandy’s path.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC