Christy Todd said she is a regular voter in Mexico Beach, the oceanfront Florida Panhandle community nearly obliterated by Hurricane Michael less than a month ago. But she sat out Tuesday’s elections. “There’s so much going on, I just couldn’t make time for it,” Todd, 40, said, donning a dust mask as she made her way into the remains of the small house she had rented for the past five years. Todd, who sells apparel on eBay, said she probably would have voted Republican in Tuesday’s elections, which will decide if U.S. President Donald Trump’s party maintains control in both houses of Congress. But Todd said she did not know where to vote and had no time to find out. Having lost most of her roof in the hurricane, she has been living out of her car and sleeping at the homes of relatives since the storm struck.
She is not alone. Hurricane Michael, the most powerful storm to strike Florida in at least 80 years, left thousands of people homeless in the Panhandle, a conservative-leaning region considered vital to the Republican Party’s fortunes in the state this year.
In two close contests regarded as national political bellwethers, Republican Governor Rick Scott was attempting to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat, faced Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis in the gubernatorial race.