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Hurricane Sandy may have cost Obama 800,000 votes


Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour asserted this morning on NBC’s TODAY that “Hurricane Sandy saved Barack Obama’s presidency.” 

But did the president’s perceived leadership during the immediate aftermath of the storm really move 2.9 million votes? That’s highly unlikely. 

In fact, Sandy may have actually cost the president 800,000 votes.

It’s difficult to quantify the tangible impact of the good scores the president received during the storm. But public polls before the storm largely proved to be similar to the actual results on Election Day. 

In the days after the storm, First Read projected that in the counties most affected by the storm in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, the president could lose a net of 340,000 votes.

It wound up being about half that across the states, with a net-reduction of about 160,000 votes -- 200,000 in New York, 10,000 in Connecticut, 10,000 in Rhode Island. The president gained about 60,000 net votes in New Jersey, but it could have been higher, given the margin increase.

Obama held his margins in all those states, but with turnout down across all of them, the president got about 802,000 fewer votes than 2008 – 500,000 less in New York, 161,000 in New Jersey, 123,000 in Connecticut, and 18,000 in Rhode Island.