Republicans will be mostly likely to benefit from a down voter turnout Tuesday in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, New Jersey political insiders believe.
According to a Patch poll of state elected officials and party insiders, 15 of 22 Republican respondents believe voter turnout will be down slightly from where it would have been otherwise. Of 27 Democratic respondents, 26 expect there will be either a slight or sharp decline in turnout.
"The areas likely to remain without power by Tuesday are predominantly smaller, suburban and rural communities that are typically Republican bases," one Republican respondent said.
"Power restoration to urban areas, with higher Democratic concentration, seems to have been prioritized," the respondent continued. "This could have an especially significant impact on races like the Bergen freeholder race, which depends on heavy turnout in northern Bergen to offset Democratic vote share in Hackensack, Teaneck and Englewood."
Sandy ripped through New Jersey last Monday night, causing massive damage to the shoreline and knocking out power across the state. Several hundred thousand remain without power one week later.
"It's going to be difficult for a lot of people who lost everything," one Democratic respondent said. "The last thing they're thinking about is voting...it may impact or skew the results of the elections since not all people have the opportunity to cast a ballot."
Both parties, including 68 percent of the Democrats polled, agreed Republicans would benefit from less voters on Election Day.
However, one Democrat said the lower turnout could favor the president.
"It may improve Obama's standing among independents and those few voters who were still undecided as recently as 10 days ago," the respondent said. "It will also demonstrate that government has a crucial role to play in addressing issues like disaster relief and infrastructure development that just cannot be 'outsourced' or privatized.
Both sides were divided along party lines when asked if the state has done its part to properly prepare for the elections just one week after the storm.
More than 76 percent of Republican respondents said the "state government has done enough to make election day run efficiently and effectively." However, most Democrats disagreed, saying there should have been more communication about the polling location changes and transportation accommodations should be provided to bring voters to the new polling place.
One Republican agreed.
"I consider myself well informed and I still don't know where I will be voting since regular polling place does not yet have power," the GOP respondent said.
Republicans and Democrats polled approved of Gov. Chris Christie's support of those most affected by the storm.
More than 80 percent of Republican respondents "strongly approve" of Christie's handling of those affected by Sandy, while more than 85 percent of Democrats either "somewhat approve" or "strongly approve."
However, one Republican criticized Christie's response to the storm, including his interaction with President Barack Obama.
"Christie could have welcomed the president with all due courtesy and respect, while not completely fawning over him," one Republican respondent said. "Does Christie secretly want Romney to lose? I'm additionally disappointed in Christie's heavy-handed response to Sandy. Rationing gasoline? Who does Christie think he is? Jimmy Carter? No wonder he and Obama get along so swimmingly."
The significance of Tuesday's election was also on the minds of many respondents.
"This is the most important election of our lifetime," one Republican said. "The direction of the country will be determined."