Over 97 percent of the Lower 48 is expected to hit high temperatures above 50 degrees, and almost 20 percent of it will see highs above 70. There are showers in the forecast from parts of the Midwest to the South, but that cold front is moving fast — so voters who see rain in the morning are likely to be dry in the evening and vice versa. It’s only going to be windy right along and behind that front, and that leaves a vast majority of the country in seasonable, sunny weather.
All of this favors Democrats on Election Day.
For decades, social and political scientists have been studying how weather affects election results. One of these more recent studies found foul weather — mainly rain and snow — decreased voter turnout and benefited Republicans. For every inch of rain, voter turnout declined by just under one percent, and the bad weather dissuaded Democrats the most. Results from a survey conducted by the Weather Channel before the 2012 election confirmed that finding.
So what’s the deal? Republicans enjoy torrential downpours, and Democrats are weather weaklings?
No. It’s much more simple than that: Good weather means more infrequent voters will hit the polls. In a world of reasons not to vote, weather won’t be one of them on Tuesday.
And the U.S. Census Bureau has a pretty good idea of who those infrequent voters tend to be, historically. The numbers show 18- to 34-year-olds have been least likely to vote when categorizing the electorate by age. Black and Hispanic populations have been less likely when categorizing by ethnicity.
If you’re skeptical, it turns out removing “bad weather” as an excuse not to vote may have had the power to swing close elections in the past. Of note, the hotly contested presidential election in 2000.
“[A dry election] would have led … Al Gore to win Florida in 2000,” the aforementioned 2007 study concluded.
Brad Gomez, the lead author of the study and a political science professor at Florida State University, told the Capital Weather Gang that even though early voting has been popular in this election (over 40 million people have voted early this year), the turnout on the actual Election Day could be swayed by the weather.
“It is possible that the portion of the electorate that turns out on Election Day, specifically, is disproportionately composed of peripheral voters, weak partisans who do not vote regularly — this latter group is likely to be most sensitive to the added [burden] caused by bad weather,” Gomez said.
At the very least — whoever wins on Tuesday — we know that weather won’t be a good excuse for low voter turnout this year.
The Capital Weather Gang’s Kevin Ambrose contributed to this story.