Posts tagged ‘election’

Election Weather

On Super Tuesday, February 5, 2008, 23 states held primaries or caucuses for one or both political parties. Also on that day, a massive storm system that stretched from the Ohio Valley to Alabama spawned 82 tornadoes, killed at least 59 people, and resulting in early closing for some polling locations. The hardest hit states, Tennessee and Alabama, were both having primaries that day. (read more in my article on BellaOnline,

    “Super Tuesday 2008 Tornado Outbreak

)

Did the severe weather have an effect on the primary outcomes? At the polling places that closed early, some individuals were not able to vote at all. Depending on demographic patterns, this could have resulted in loss of votes for one candidate or another. Could it have been enough to change the outcome? What about tomorrow’s primaries in Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island?

I can think of many factors determining the answer to those questions:

1. Demographic support of candidates — How do age, race, socioeconomic status, etc. affect support? Is there a clear division between older and younger voters? What about lower, middle, and upper class?

2. Differences in turnout due to weather — Does severe weather affect which demographic groups go to the polls? Are older voters less likely to get out in bad weather? What about lower class individuals who do not have cars?

3. What is the size of the effect, if any, that the weather has on the turnout demographics? Does it make a significant difference, percentage-wise, in the turnout of a given group during severe weather as compared to an election in good weather?

The answers to these questions will decide the final effect of the severe weather. Tomorrow Ohio voters face cold rain, with snow and ice in the northern areas. Hillary Clinton is expected to win Ohio, based on her 5% lead in CNN’s “Poll of Polls”.(10:02 PM CST)

However — Hillary’s support base is considered to be older voters. Not necessarily over 65, but some of them are old enough that driving in bad weather would be difficult. Will they decide to stay home if the elements are exceptionally vicious? If so, how many will stay home? Will it be enough to sway that 5% lead? Also, older voters frequently choose early voting, sometimes because they are unsure of the weather on election day (plus, they don’t relish the long lines). If lots of Hillary supporters have voted early then the weather may not have an effect at all.

The problem with issues of this type is there is no way to do a truly scientific study — you cannot have a control group. However, it can be useful in this case to compare CNN’s poll with the final outcome. Tomorrow night I will comment on exactly that.

March 3, 2008 at 10:15 pm Leave a comment


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