SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION...IN GREATER DEPTH

Friday, 4 November 2016

WEATHER AND ELECTIONS


Next Tuesday is National Election Day, when the citizens of the United States vote for the electors for a President, a third of the members of the U.S. Senate, the entire U.S. House of Representatives, and various state and local officials. Has the weather affected an election?

According to weather historian, David Ludlum, in his book "The Weather Factor", weather may have played a part in various past Presidential Elections, especially in close elections when only a few thousand votes in key states would have swung the outcome in the other direction. Some people have argued that large voter turnouts occur when the weather is favorable. However, others have argued that when the nation was more rural and more agrarian, if the weather were inclement the number of voters would have increased because the farmers would have had time to vote than if the weather were favorable for late season field work. The voter turnout often times would have been beneficial to one political party at the expense of the other.

A recent study of fourteen Presidential elections by researchers indicates that rain tends to reduce voter participation by nearly one percent for each inch of rain, while an inch of snow would reduce voter turnout by nearly one half of a percent. The inclement weather also was found to benefit the Republican Party's vote share.

Gomez, B.T.; T.G. Hansford and G.A. Krause, 2007: The Republicans should pray for rain: weather, turnout, and voting in U.S. presidential elections. The Journal of Politics, 69, 649-663.

Ludlum, D.M., 1984: "The weather factor." Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston. 275 pp. (ISBN 0-395-36144-3)


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Prepared by Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email hopkins@aos.wisc.edu
© Copyright, 2016, The American Meteorological Society.