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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 11/ 2/2010

Election 2010: Where will the weather matter?

By Dan Stillman

* Midweek rain? Full Forecast | Campaign 2010: Full Coverage *
* Why was last year so snowy? | Southeast rainfall more variable *

National Weather Service precipitation forecast (in inches) for today (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT). Credit: HPC

Most of today's marquee election matchups, including the Harry Reid-Sharron Angle Senate showdown in Nevada and the three-way Senate race in Florida, won't have any weather issues to deal with. Bad weather does, however, have the potential to play a role in a few races of interest.

Before we get to the specifics, let's consider what kind of weather is capable of significantly reducing voter turnout, and which political party lower turnout would tend to favor.

According to a recent post at Cliff Mass's weather blog, a 2007 study showed that inclement weather hurts Democrats more than Republicans:

Heavy rain reduces voter turnout by roughly 1% for every inch of rain above normal. Snow reduces turnout by .5% per inch. Furthermore, Republican presidential candidates gain 2.5% of the vote for every inch of rain above normal, and .6% for every inch of snow.

Virtually no accumulating snow is expected across the continental U.S. today (Anchorage, Alaska, could see 1 to 2 inches, but that shouldn't be enough to faze voters in the state's three-way Senate race), and nothing too extreme is expected in terms of temperatures. In fact, the vast majority of the country should be precipitation-free.

The main exception is the Deep South, where a storm system could give some areas as much as 1 to 2 inches of rain and some thunder today. The key question there is: Where does the potential for disruptive rain overlap with close or somewhat close contests?...


Arkansas congressional districts. Credit:

1st District: Chad Causey (D) vs. Rick Crawford (R) - The southern third of the district, which spans the northeast quadrant of the state, could see some moderate rainfall today (around 0.5"-1"). But most of the rest of the district likely escapes with nothing more than occasional light showers, and much of the district's northern half may be mostly or entirely rain-free.


Mississippi congressional districts. Credit:

1st District: Travis Childers (D) vs. Alan Nunnelee (R) - Southern and western portions of the district, which covers the northeast corner of the state, stand the best chance of moderate rains (around 0.5"-1"). Just a chance of mainly light showers for northern and eastern sections.

4th District: Steven Palazzo (R) vs. Gene Taylor (D) - Moderate to heavy rains are a threat (as much as 1-2" possible for some spots), especially for the northern half of the district, which is the state's southeast corner. Forecast confidence here is on the low side, though, with one model suggesting the heaviest rain will stay toward the northern and western edges of the district.

For a look at the history of weather's influence on elections, see this 2008 post by CWG's Steve Tracton.

By Dan Stillman  | November 2, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  EventCasts  
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Next: Why was last year so snowy? Part II


Unfortunately I'm continuing to get all those nasty campaign spots today...didn't they terminate those as soon as the polls OPENED when I was a boy?

Keith Fimian's spots have been particularly nasty--too bad I'm in Jim Moran's Congressional district rather than Gerry Connolley's.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | November 2, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

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