"As voters, particularly those who are undecided, deliberate over whom they should support, they will watch Obama as he navigates through the storm and the post-storm clean-up," wrote Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.
"The crisis offers an opportunity for him to act presidential in a way for which some voters are thirsting and to demonstrate the kind of command that has often been lacking," Zelizer said.
Obama's very visible posture is in stark contrast to his predecessor.
President George W. Bush's administration was widely criticized for failing to act in a timely manner during Hurricane Katrina.
"Presidents for a generation or two will remember the Bush disaster with Katrina," Sabato said. "Presidents and their staffs go out of their way to avoid another Katrina happening to their president."
Similarly, when Sen. John McCain rushed back to Washington in 2008 at the height of the banking meltdown, effectively "suspending" his presidential campaign against Obama because of the "historic crisis in our financial system," the move was seen as odd and impulsive at a time when steady leadership was needed.
On the other hand, Obama's handling of the financial crisis -- appearing masterful while McCain appeared confused, marked a turning point in the 2008 presidential race, political experts say.
Both campaigns are keenly aware of how it looked.
Romney was in a tricky position. He dialed back heavy campaigning and steered clear of pontificating on recovery efforts.
"Romney can't do anything but express concern," Sabato said.
Experts disagree about whether the storm will ultimately have an impact on the outcome of the election.
"My sense is that it is going to be a wash," said Gergen, who has worked for four presidents in both parties. "It won't change the outcome."
Asked at the White House on Monday if he was worried about the storm's impact on the election, Obama said he was concerned about those in harm's way and how Sandy might influence the economy.
"The election will take care of itself next week," he said.