Could Superstorm Sandy cost Obama the popular vote?

There’s markedly less incentive than usual for Obama voters in deep-blue states to make it to the polling station

(Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

Jeff Greenfield speculates that the U.S. election could result in a replay of 2000 — where one candidates wins the popular vote and other takes the presidency thanks to winning enough swing states to rack up sufficient electoral college votes. The superstorm has affected coastal states, like New York and New Jersey, where a reduction in voting next Tuesday could depress Democratic turnout:

Now consider where these voters are: overwhelmingly, they’re in states where Obama is all but certain to win, and with huge pluralities. (The latest poll out of New York gives the President a 61-35 advantage over Mitt Romney, which translates to a 2-million-vote plurality.)

This enormous lead, combined with the post-storm burdens, suggests that there’s markedly less incentive than usual for Obama voters in deep-blue states to vote.

The likely result? An increased chance that Obama will lose the national popular vote to Romney, and thus an increased chance that we’ll see, as we did in 2000, a split between the popular vote and the Electoral College tally that in fact decides the presidency.

Should Obama win the election this way, it would be historic: We’ve never had an incumbent president returned to office while losing the popular vote. (Gerald Ford came close; despite losing the popular vote by 1.7 million votes, a shift of barely 11,000 votes in Ohio and Hawaii would have kept him in the White House).

Meanwhile, New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Chritstie, today praised the president for his handling of disaster response. From Politico:

“I spoke to the president three times yesterday,” Christie said on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “He has been incredibly supportive and helpful to our state and not once did he bring up the election. So if he’s not bringing it up, you can be sure that people in New Jersey are not worried about that primarily if one of the guys running isn’t.”

On “Fox and Friends,” Christie bristled at the mere mention of presidential politics when asked if Romney would come and tour damaged areas.

“I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested,” Christie said. “I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff. I have a job to do. I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power. I’ve got devastation on the Shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”