When the election rains out and how bad weather excludes marginal voters from turning out

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Ostensibly random and trivial experiences of everyday life, e.g., local weather, can have significant political consequences. First, we present a comprehensive meta-analysis of 34 studies of electoral turnout and rainfall – the vast majority demonstrating a negative association. Secondly, we present a new analysis of a voter panel with validated turnout for a complete electorate merged with fine-grained meteorological observations to show that Election Day rainfall reduces turnout by 0.95 percentage points per centimeter, while more sunshine increases turnout. Marginal voters (young voters) are up to six times more susceptible to bad weather and respond more positively to pleasant weather. Thus, bad weather exacerbates unequal democratic participation by pushing low-propensity voters to abstain. Efforts to include marginal voters therefore ought to be intensified during poor weather, and elections could even be moved to seasons with more pleasant weather to improve participatory equality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102573
JournalElectoral Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Climate, Cost of voting, Electoral turnout, Individual-level voter panel, Local weather, Marginal voter, Participation

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