Saturday, October 8, 2011

Study: Voter Turnout in Rain

"That the weather affects voter turnout has long been held as a truism
of American presidential elections.

...we find the linkage not only to be statistically significant,
but sometimes meaningful as well.

...we find that voters seem to be rather sensitive
to what is presumably a minor increase in participation costs
—the weather.

...we have shown that bad weather may affect electoral outcomes
by significantly decreasing Democratic presidential vote share,
to the benefit of Republicans.

...if Republicans are more likely to turn out than Democrats,
then higher turnout levels may correlate with particularly Republican electorates
and thus may appear to actually cause higher vote shares for Republican candidates.

...Republican candidates benefit electorally
from the turnout-depressing effects of bad weather.

It is possible that forecasts of bad weather
motivate political parties to increase their voter mobilization efforts,
so as to negate the diminishing turnout effect of precipitation.

We are unable to incorporate partisan mobilization efforts into our model,
but if these activities were undertaken and effective during our sampling period,
we believe the implications for our study are twofold.

First, to the extent that mobilization efforts
counteract the negative effects of precipitation,
our models provide conservative estimates of bad weather’s effect on turnout.

In other words, if mobilization were held constant,
we expect that the percentage of voters deterred by precipitation
would increase.

Second, our results suggest that Democrats may need to increase significantly
their mobilization efforts when rain is on the horizon.

It is clear from our results that Republicans benefit from precipitation
on election day."

The Republicans Should Pray for Rain:
Weather, Turnout, and Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections

Brad T. Gomez University of Georgia
Thomas G. Hansford University of California, Merced
George A. Krause University of Pittsburgh

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