Saturday, November 04, 2006


The St. Petersburg Times has a very interesting article this morning by it's Washington Burear Chief Bill Adair which notes that a new study of voter turnout shows that rain and snow hurts Democratic voter turnout much more than it does Republicans.

Dr. Brad T. Gomez, a visiting professor of political science at the University of Georgia, co-authored the study with Dr. Thomas G. Hansford of the University of California - Merced, and Dr. George Krause of the University of Pittsburgh . They analyzed weather and voter turnout data since 1948, calculating how many voters stayed home due to rain or snow. The study, entitled “The Republicans Should Pray for Rain: Weather Turnout and Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections,” will appear next year in The Journal of Politics.

According to their data, one inch of rain reduces overall turnout by slightly less than one percent, but the Democratic vote is cut by 2.5 percentage points.

Why are Democrats affected more? Political operatives believe it’s a matter of demographics. Democratic voters tend to be poorer than Republicans and may not have cars to drive to the polls. Those voters, the theory goes, would be more likely to stay home in bad weather.

Another explanation is that Democrats are more likely to be what political scientists call “peripheral voters,” people casually interested in politics who don’t feel compelled to vote in every election...

Gomez and his colleagues compiled voting data and weather reports for more than 3,000 U.S. counties for presidential elections from 1948 to 2000. Using a sophisticated analysis of precipitation, historical turnout and factors that affect voting, they calculated how much the turnout was influenced by rain or snow.

I've checked the Tuesday forecast for several areas around Florida, and while there is no posted chance of rain for the penisular Gulf Coast region, including Tampa/St. Petersburg, Lakeland/Winter Haven, and Fort Myers, a 20% probability is forecast for much of the Atlantic Coast area from Orlando/Daytona Beach down to Miami/Fort Lauderdale, a 30% chance of rain is expected in Northeast Florida around Jacksonville, and a 40% probability is forecast for the Western Panhandle around the Pensacola/Panama City area. Tallahassee's forecast simply calls for a chance of rain Tuesday, but no probability is listed.

Here is another newspaper article on the study, from Thursday's Merced (CA) Sun-Star.


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