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Election news may be the weather: an election guide to weather impact

Polls indicate a neck and neck race in the popular vote for president making turn out critical in the swing states. A study in the JOURNAL OF POLITICS studied the weather impact on 14 presidential elections and found that rain and snow caused hundreds of thousands of voters to stay home in the 1972, 1992, and 2000 elections.

This year, in a survey conducted late this summer the polling company Ipsos found more than a third-- 35%-- of undecided voters said that bad weather would have a moderate to significant effect on their decision to go vote.

The poll targeted registered voters in the battleground states where the presidential race is considered most competitive – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Not unexpectedly Romney supporters are more likely to vote even in bad weather and those making over $50,000 a year are more likely to vote even with inclement conditions. Among registered voters, more voters (28 percent) supporting President Barack Obama are likely to say that bad weather would have a “significant or moderate impact” on their getting to the polls than Romney voters (19 percent).

Romney voters are considered "more enthusiastic" this year than those for President Obama, a common thread when an incumbent is on the ballot. People with higher incomes are more likely to have their own transportation to the polls and more likely to have a spouse, other relative or nanny to baby sit children while they vote, and are more likely to have a flexible job to allow time to vote during business hours.

Obviously the election has to be close for weather to matter so that eliminates many of the contests in the past 50-years. That leaves Nixon-JFK and Bush-Gore as the main elections to examine.

Summarized by the National Constitution Center the main finding validates a widely held belief on party turnout:

“Poor weather conditions are positively related to Republican party vote share in presidential elections,” they said. “The results not only lend credence to the weather-turnout thesis and the conventional wisdom regarding the determinants of aggregate voter turnout, they further add to the debate over how sensitive citizens may be to the costs of voting.”

The study says Nixon would have taken seven more states and 105 electoral votes if rain and snow were factors in 1960. And in 2000, better weather in Florida would have swung that state to Gore.

A large portion of the nation will be dry and mild on Election Day, there are some areas of the nation where the weather will be more active.

A storm emerging off the coast of the Southeast will produce rain and thunderstorms from the Carolinas through Florida, while a separate storm will spark rain and snow showers in parts of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. A third storm is expected to move onshore in the Pacific Northwest, bringing more clouds and showers to parts of the region.

Election day temperatures will be chilly East of the Missouri River, except Florida.

Some light snow or a mix of rain and snow is expected around the Great Lakes mostly NE Minnesota and Upper Michigan and northern Wisconsin.

Bad weather in the Democratic strong hold of Milwaukee could tip the balance in the Dairy State. The weather looks disruptive for turn-out in Florida which could play a role in this swing state. Minor weather impacts are possible in VA and NC.


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