TAMPA - With eight days left until the election, both campaigns are sprinting towards the finish line, but Superstorm Sandy has stopped their ground game like a roadblock.
"The election will take care of itself next week. Right now, our number one priority is saving lives," said the President.
"Our hearts and prayers are with all the people in the storm's path," said Republican Challenger Mitt Romney.
Millions of people could be stranded or evacuated. Subways, buses, trains and tunnels in New York are shut down or will be soon and that may be all the excuse some undecided voters need.
"They really feel as though they should vote but their emotions are so torn, they just don't how to vote and that could be the excuse, the cop out for not voting. Can't make it. It's inconvenient," said USF Political Science Professor J. Edwin Benton.
Benton says there's the potential for both sides to play the storm to their political advantage. Mitt Romney could improvise and visit people who suffer damage and the President can play up his image as a strong leader.
"He can take advantage of it. They can accuse him of playing politics but he's doing what he's supposed to do and so the disadvantage would be to Romney because he has no Presidential roll to play," said Benton.
Flooding and power outages threaten early voter polling locations. In some states, election officials are improvising. In Virginia, where there's a tie in the polls, you can now vote absentee in-person. But in Washington, D.C. and Maryland on Monday, both historically democratic, early voting was canceled.
New York City subways stopped running last night. Cabs are hard to come by. The New York Stock Exchange floor is deserted because it is in the middle of a mandatory evacuation zone.
"The question is going to be what level does the surge take us to later this afternoon, later this evening, when it's actually high tide," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Sandy is forecasted to bring an 11-foot wall of water to parts of New York. It'll also bring the first unplanned shutdown of the stock exchange floor since the September 11 attacks but this time under much different circumstances.
"So much of trading now is done on electronic or a digital basis," USF Finance Adjunct Professor Jack Rader.
Rader says only about 12 percent of trading is done on the floor and expects the shutdown to have little impact on the markets. Still the financial effects of storm damage in the nation's biggest city could still creep down south.
"It could raise property insurance rates here slightly. We do have state regulated markets but when you do think about it you step back from it, what happens in New York does matter down here," he said.
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