Why the Republican Party may have an advantage when it rains: Voters change their minds

January 11, 2018, Dartmouth College

Bad weather affects U.S. voter turnout and election outcomes with past research demonstrating that the Republican Party has the advantage. A new study by researchers at Dartmouth College and The Australian National University finds that the Republican Party's advantage when it rains may be due in part to voters changing their partisan preference that day.

The study published in American Politics Research, examines electoral data and considers how voter psychology may impact election results.

"Our study suggests that may affect people's decisions on not only whether to vote but also who they vote for," says co-author Yusaku Horiuchi, professor of government at Dartmouth.

The findings revealed that at least 1 percent of voting age adults in the U.S. who would have voted for a Democrat had the weather been good, voted instead for a Republican on rainy election days.

The change in party preference may be attributed to a psychological behavior, where voters may be more averse to risk during poor weather conditions. Earlier studies have identified a correlation between ideological and political orientations in which conservatives or Republicans tend to be more averse to risk than liberals or Democrats.

The study was based on a statistical analysis that drew on compositional electoral data: the voter share for the Democratic candidate, the voter share for the Republican candidate and the abstention rate, the sum of which should be 100 percent. When this compositional nature of was taken into account, the research team discovered a more nuanced effect of rainfall— how voters' preferences may change with .

The Dartmouth-ANU research team points out that past studies looking at how rain affects people's decisions to go to the polls or abstain from voting have focused on how turnout tends to be higher among Republicans than among Democrats; however, the team argues that this only partially explains the alleged Republican advantage.

Explore further: Voting restrictions stir anger, mobilize more Democrats to polls

More information: Yusaku Horiuchi et al. Why Should the Republicans Pray for Rain? Electoral Consequences of Rainfall Revisited, American Politics Research (2017). DOI: 10.1177/1532673X17745631

Related Stories

Voter behavior influenced by hot weather

August 16, 2017

Political rebellions and riots have been associated with warmer weather, but until now, there has been little research on its potential influence on peaceful and democratic political behavior. A new study, published in the ...

Recommended for you

Solving the mystery of an unusual medieval text

July 20, 2018

When historian Rowan Dorin first stepped onto the Stanford campus in early 2017, he made it a habit to visit Green Library every week to dig through its collection of medieval documents and objects.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Mark Thomas
not rated yet Jan 11, 2018
Maybe these voters need to seal up the large holes in their heads so the rain doesn't get into their brains so easily. :-)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.