The Lid: Hurricane Politics

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos…A Senate candidate in California performed quarterback Cam Newton’s signature “dab” at the closing of a debate last night. No one was more upset about it than N.F.L. commissioner Roger Goodell when he found out he couldn’t fine her for it.

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We’re old enough to remember when Mother Nature delivered the ultimate “October surprise” nearly four years ago when Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the United States. The storm halted the campaign just eight days before the election and, as Mitt Romney would later lament, gave President Obama “the chance to be presidential.” Hurricane Matthew isn’t hitting quite as close to Election Day and its impact remains to be seen, but the politics of a natural disaster is already playing out in the 2016 race. Republicans pounced on the Clinton campaign for “exploiting” the incoming storm by buying up ad time on the Weather Channel in Florida markets. (The Clinton camp later announced the ads would be “delayed” until the storm has passed.) And Matthew will certainly disrupt the ground game for both campaigns in an important battleground state, along with eat up the attention of the news cycle heading into the second presidential debate on Sunday. (The storm and the subsequent displacement of residents will certainly complicate efforts to register voters in Florida, where the current deadline is next Tuesday.)

But one reason why Matthew probably won’t have the type of political impact Sandy had is because of both the timing (still 33 days until the election) and because there is no incumbent on the ballot. Natural disasters give presidents the chance to, as Romney said, “be presidential” and remain a part of the newscycle without seeming opportunistic. Conversely, there also could be pitfalls for a commander-in-chief if he or she is accused of mishandling a disaster. (Think President George W. Bush and Hurricane Katrina.)



"When Kate McKinnon came out with the walker I thought I was going to fall off my chair."

  • Hillary Clinton on the SNL impersonation of her on the season opener.


Mike Pence campaigns in Ohio.

Elizabeth Warren stumps for Clinton in Wisconsin.