Weather, voter mobilization and turnout

This question always comes up at election time: will the weather influence voter turnout? Will good weather lead to stronger voter turnout, and bad weather suppress voter participation?

There have been a few studies on this question in the journals recently, which we’ve blogged about in the past.

In the just-published issue of PS: Political Science & Politics, J. Ryan Lamare has a paper “Mobilization and Voter Turnout: Should Canvassers Worry About the Weather?” I’ve just begun to look at this paper, but Lamare’s answer seems to be yes. Here is his abstract:

This article melds a well-studied area of research (political mobilization effects on voter turnout) with a subject rarely discussed in political science (the effects of meteorological variability on mood, productivity, and fatigue) to argue that weather at the time of mobilization influences individual voters’ turnout odds relative to other contacted voters. Using panel data totaling 39,769 registered voters contacted by unions across 14 months and five elections, quantitative analysis is used to measure the effects of temperature, seasonableness, and precipitation during contact on vote likelihood, controlling for known turnout influences. Results indicate that variations in all three weather conditions during contact affect vote odds. Mobilization effects are weaker as temperatures rise and weather becomes unseasonably hot; mobilization is also less successful as precipitation increases. Outcomes vary by contact type; door-to-door visits are more negatively influenced by hotter and less seasonable temperatures, whereas phone calls are more negatively affected by higher precipitation.