, Volume 79, Issue 1-2, pp 187-209

Does rain help the Republicans? Theory and evidence on turnout and the vote

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Conventional political wisdom holds that inclement weather on election day reduces turnout, and helps elect Republican candidates. Analysis of National Climatic Data Center weather records and National Election Studies (NES) survey data for 1984, 1986, and 1988 refutes the latter hypothesis: interaction variables based on various measures of partisanship and election-day rainfall show no evidence of partisan differences in the turnout-deterring impact of inclement weather. Furthermore, rainfall does not significantly reduce the probability of voting for the NES samples as a whole, but only among those respondents scoring low on the standard NES civic duty indicator.

The author wishes to thank Joseph V. Knack (National Weather Service, ret.), William Evans, and Tancred Lidderdale for helpful comments and suggestions. American National Election Studies data were collected by the Center for Political Studies of the University of Michigan and were provided by the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research. Precipitation and temperature data were collected by the National Weather Service, and provided by the National Climatic Data Center. Analyses and interpretation of the data, as well as any remaining errors, are the sole responsibility of the author.