Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Elections and Snow in Massachusetts

Weather forecasts across Massachusetts today are calling for snow showers and in some places freezing rain. Voters there are headed to the polls for a special election to fill Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat. This is a critical election which could determine the fate of the national Democratic agenda, including health care plans.

So whats potential the implication of snow on the election? Well, probably not good news for the Democrats. But to be fair, they were falling behind before the snow started falling.

In a 2007
study called "The Republicans Should Pray for Rain: Weather, Turnout, and Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections," researchers used GIS information and employed meteorological data drawn from over 22,000 U.S. weather stations to provide election day estimates of rain and snow for each U.S. county. They found that, when compared to normal conditions, an inch of snowfall decreases turnout by almost .5 percent.

The fact that bad weather keeps people at home during elections seems pretty obvious to me, but this was the first time someone did research to show it was actually the case.

The study also indicated that poor weather is shown to benefit the Republican party's vote share. Sorry Democrats. Thankfully, the residents of Massachusetts are pretty weather hearty, so perhaps there is hope.