Study finds weather can turn the tide in some elections - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Study finds weather can turn the tide in some elections

By Chad Sewich - bio | email

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Close races and plenty of voter enthusiasm made this a busy day at the polls.  But there may be another reason why turnout is so high.

14 news looked into how sunny skies today may benefit some candidates.

It's long been known weather can affect our moods. Now, research shows it can also play a big part on election day.

Florida State University Political Scientist Brad Gomez says, "I think campaigns have been cognizant of the affect of weather on turnout for years."

Researchers at Florida State University put that theory to the test, publishing a study last year looking at temperature and precipitation on election day in over 3,000 U.S. counties. The study included all 14 presidential elections from 1948 to 2000.

Brad Gomez says, "The main finding for every inch of rain that a county receives over and above its normal amount, turnout in that county goes down by 9 tenths of one percentage point."

Bad weather generally equals lower turnout as people simply don't want to stand in line in the rain or cold. Voters we asked say the weather didn't make a difference to them.

Voter Rick Reiter, :"It wouldn't have changed anything. We would have been here in the rain, sleet or snow or whatever."

Voter Cheryl Reiter said, "I'm sure it affects some people, if maybe transportation is a problem."

That's exactly what researchers think, speculating that democratic candidates generally do worse when it rains on election day. They point to the common belief that more democrats live in large cities and have lower incomes. Those voters may have to walk or take public transportation to get to the polls, making voting a hassle in the rain or snow.

Brad Gomez says, "Our model does suggest that the old adage that republicans should pray for rain is in fact a reality."

If true, that could be bad news for republicans this year. Several battleground states, including Indiana, are enjoying beautiful weather.

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