The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

October 30, 2012

Presidential race rained out even in sunny states


Emerson said his congregation is shifting focus, too.

"We had some plans today and tomorrow, going door to door. It's still going on, but not with the intensity we had, because people want to make sure their loved ones are OK," said Emerson, who has a niece in Hampton, Va.

Some weary swing state voters didn't think the political lull would mean much. "I'm sure the TV commercials aren't going to stop," said Mike Beauregard, a Republican-leaning Independent who owns a cooking utensil shop in Concord, NH.

Others were fixated on images of the storm but still saw the devastation through the prism of the election. In western Wisconsin, at the bustling student union at the University of Wisconsin in River Falls, a television tuned to cable news showed ominous images of the storm. History major Mike Engelhardt, 21, said Obama had the most on the line.

"If he bungles the beginning of the cleanup, that will move a lot of votes to Romney," Engelhardt predicted.

One place the storm may have an impact is North Carolina, where Democrats are hoping new voters who cast their ballots early will overcome the GOP's traditional Election Day advantage at the polls. Rain from the storm shuttered some early voting locations Sunday, and election officials were concerned that heavy snow in the western mountains could make it even harder to get to polling places early.

"The weather could chill participation," state election executive director Gary Bartlett said.

Democrats are counting on running up an edge in early votes in other swing states as well — ones that lie outside the storm's path but were still on the minds of Romney supporters in sunny Davenport, Iowa, where the Republican candidate made a final Monday afternoon appearance.

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