Rain Can Aid Republicans on Election Day

Bad weather affects U.S. voter turnout and election outcomes, with past research showing that the Republican Party has the advantage.

Now, a new study by researchers at Dartmouth College and the Australian National University finds that the Republican Party’s advantage when it rains may be due, in part, to voters changing their minds on not only whether to vote, but who to vote for.

The study’s findings revealed that at least one percent of voting age adults in the U.S. who would have voted for a Democrat had the weather been good, voted instead for a Republican on rainy election days.

The change in party preference may be attributed to a psychological behavior, where voters may be more averse to risk during poor weather conditions, according to the researchers.

Earlier studies identified a correlation between ideological and political orientations in which conservatives or Republicans tend to be more averse to risk than liberals or Democrats.

The new study was based on a statistical analysis that drew on compositional electoral data: the voter share for the Democratic candidate, the voter share for the Republican candidate, and the abstention rate, the sum of which should be 100 percent, researchers explained. When this compositional nature of election outcomes was taken into account, the research team discovered a more nuanced effect of rainfall — how voters’ preferences may change with bad weather.

The researchers point out that past studies looking at how rain affects people’s decisions to go to the polls or abstain from voting have focused on how voter turnout tends to be higher among Republicans than among Democrats. However, they argue that this only partially explains the alleged Republican advantage.

The study was published in American Politics Research.

Source: Dartmouth College