Will Weather Affect the Election Tuesday?A meteorologist assesses the forecast for Ohio, Colorado, Florida and beyond
Early voters wait in line to vote in the presidential election on the first day of early voting at a polling station setup at the City of Miami City Hall on Oct. 27 in Miami, Florida.
By Renny Vandewege
The presidential election is only a day away, and many voters will go to the polls with the economy, foreign policy and healthcare reform on their minds. But there's one factor unrelated to politics that can affect who goes to the polls and even the outcome of the election: weather.
In 2007, a study published in the Journal of Politics evaluated presidential elections from 1948 to 2000 to determine if hypothetical dry and wet weather would affect Electoral College votes. For decades, experts believed that so-called peripheral voters - those who vote less often and sometimes against soft partisan allegiances - fell in line with the Democratic Party. This research found that heavy rain or snow would most likely limit peripheral voters from casting a ballot, thus helping the Republican Party by reducing some Democrats' votes.
However, two of the three researchers published another study in 2010 in the American Political Science Review that suggests peripheral voters are more likely to be anti-incumbent and vote for change. Since this election features an incumbent Democrat president, peripheral voters may fall more in line with the Republican Party, thus making inclement weather a favorable voting day factor for Democrats. Of course, all that remains to be seen.
But with that in mind, here is the weather forecast for voters in seven swing states Tuesday:
Weather won't be a factor in Colorado on Tuesday with mostly sunny skies and highs near 70 in Denver. It will come down to traditional politics for voters in the Centennial State.
Rain may play a big factor in voter turnout in Florida on Tuesday. Rain is likely in the northern two-thirds of the state, including Jacksonville, Orlando, Tallahassee and Tampa. Lesser chances of rain exist in Miami and other cities in the state's southern third but could affect voters at scattered times throughout the day. Temperatures are expected to be in the 70s and 80s.
Morning Iowa voters may be out in the rain, especially in Des Moines, the Quad Cities and the northern half of the state. Rain will exit throughout the afternoon leaving voters with a mostly cloudy sky, temperatures in the 40s and a breezy northwest wind around 15–30 mph.
High pressure will build into this high-pressure voting state and leave a chilly but sunny day. In the state capital of Concord, expect chilly highs in the low 40s but brilliant blue skies.
This traditional swing state will be full of political drama, but the weather should remain mostly quiet. There is a small chance of rain in the western part of the state as voting hours end, but most of the day should feature a mostly sunny sky and highs in the 40s.
After dealing with Sandy just a week ago, the weather is expected to be pleasant on Tuesday. In the capital city of Richmond, high temperatures will top out in the mid-50s, with a mix of sun and clouds.
Rain is likely during voting hours much of Tuesday in the Badger State and even a few snowflakes are possible early in the day in the far northern part of the state. Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay all have likely chances of rain in their forecast with temperatures in the mid-40s.
Meteorologist Renny Vandewege has worked as a television meteorologist at WTOK in Meridian, MS and KCTV in Kansas City, MO. He's an instructor of broadcast meteorology at Mississippi State University. He has covered Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita on television, and as a storm chaser, he has witnessed more than 40 tornadoes.