Scattered Thunderstorms, With a Chance of Republicans  

Science

O, election day! In the ruddy twilight of each year, as autumn incarnadines the republic’s plump pastures and luxuriant hills, its people gather for that most felicitous and humbling of civic offices: to choose our elect, to decide who will rule. With renewed revolutionary vigor this mighty tide sweeps the continent, intermingling the wise Delaware and the ferocious Klamath, making so strong a torrent as to flood the ancient Appalachians and take the West’s Rocky spine in a single splash. Woe to any tyrant who tries to dam this foamy act of faith, for no virtuous power can block the people from their solemn act—

—except, that is, some scattered rain showers.

On Tuesday, as voters decided the midterm 2018 elections, rain fell across well-populated areas of the country. In the Southeast, voters faced scattered showers and dreary conditions as some of them waited in hours-long lines at the polls. Steady rains and occasional thunderstorms also soaked the Northeast.

Snow also fell in parts of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, according to the National Weather Service.

These arbitrary weather conditions could shape politics for years to come, political researchers have found. Rainy days can depress voter turnout, discouraging people from even going to the polls at all. And lousy weather may even lead a small number of voters to change their votes to more conservative candidates. Both of these effects consistently boost Republicans when elections happen to fall on rainy days.

The party knows it. Bob Hugin, running for U.S. Senate in New Jersey, called the rain “Republican weather” on the eve of Tuesday’s vote. “This election is about who gets the vote out and who doesn’t, and I hope it rains hard tomorrow,” he told supporters. (It did. Hugin still trails by 11 points in pre-election polling.)

For years, political scientists have argued that Republicans do better on rainy days from lower turnout alone. A famous 2007 paper found that every additional inch of rain that fell on Election Day decreased overall turnout by 1 percent. The effect can be profound: Had the Mid-Atlantic states seen rainy weather on November 8, 1960, historians would speak of Richard Nixon’s famous victory over John F. Kennedy, the study’s authors argue. Likewise, a dry day in Florida may have let Al Gore win the state on November 7, 2000, handing Democrats a third term in the White House and possibly averting the Iraq …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Science

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