Pat Shingleton: "The Vote and the Weather..."
Our forefathers selected early November as Election Day because the weather, most of the time, in November is moderate. This afforded voters an easier means of getting to the polls. In days of old, transportation from rural areas to polling places was compromised by weather. Today, rain is expected in Northern Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Spotty showers are also stretching from the Gulf coast through Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri. The pivotal states of Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania should experience a combination of sunshine and clouds with no complication in vote-casting. In 1948, weather helped Harry Truman as two inches of rain in Illinois stunted voter turnout but dry weather increased turnout in Ohio. In 1960, steady rain in Illinois deterred rural Republican voters but not Democratic as Chicago voters assisted John Kennedy. Wet weather in two states could have helped Gerald Ford grab 3800 votes from Jimmy Carter. In 2008, Accuweather.com predicted that Election Day weather would be mostly fair weather, across the country, favoring the Democratic candidate. The Journal of Politics reports that inclement weather on Election Day favors the Republican Party. Another factor is the ease and growing trend of early voting, reducing the impact of weather on the first Tuesday of November. The study found that in 15 presidential elections, Democrats are less likely to vote in inclement weather and rain is a bigger deterrent than cold weather. Rain reduced voter turnout by one percent per inch. Voter turnout dropped by one-half percent for each inch of snow. Voters utilize unrestricted early voting to avoid standing in line in the rain, snow or cold.