There’s a recent paper published in the Journal of Politics, by Brad Gomez (Florida State), Thomas Hansford (UC-Merced), and George Krause (Pittsburgh). Gomez and colleagues undertake an interesting and thorough analysis of a common belief about voter turnout in the United States: that voter participation is influenced by the weather.
Brad Gomez has a pre-print of the published paper on his website, for those who do not have access to the Journal of Politics website.
Here’s the paper’s abstract:
The relationship between bad weather and lower levels of voter turnout is widely espoused by media, political practitioners, and, perhaps, even political scientists. Yet, there is virtually no solid empirical evidence linking weather to voter participation. This paper provides an extensive test of the claim. We examine the effect of weather on voter turnout in 14 U.S. presidential elections. Using GIS interpolations, we employ 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. We ﬁnd that, when compared to normal conditions, rain signiﬁcantly reduces voter participation by a rate of just less than 1% per inch, while an inch of snowfall decreases turnout by almost .5%. Poor weather is also shown to beneﬁt the Republican party’s vote share. Indeed, the weather may have contributed to two Electoral College outcomes, the 1960 and 2000 presidential elections.