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Sunny skies for Election Day

Republicans’ high spirits to win the Senate are unlikely to be tempered by unfavorable weather conditions Tuesday as voters head to the polls. 

While some Election Day voters in areas situated between two sprawling areas of high pressure over the Carolinas and inner Mountain West may get showered upon, most of the nation will see generally clear skies, according to data from the National Weather Service.

{mosads}Some research looking to pinpoint a correlation between poor weather and Election Day turnout has shown that bad weather tends to favor Republicans. 

“[But] it’s sort of like looking for needles in a haystack,” said Robert S. Erikson, a political science professor at Columbia University who has researched the topic. 

Erikson noted that rain on Tuesday would not impact those who voted early.

“If the likely voter pool shrinks it’s likely to help the GOP,” he added. 

Extreme conditions can impact voter turnout, such as New Jersey’s record-low turnout after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but this year those intent on casting their ballot will be largely undeterred by the weather.

“It tends to impact the turnout of what we call peripheral voters – voters [who] weren’t going to turn out anyway,” said Dianne Bystrom, a political science professor and director of Iowa State University’s Center for Women and Politics.

Bystrom noted that both parties, especially Democrats, have been known to account for weather and ratchet up their voter turnout operations accordingly.

“When you kind of put weather on the scale of things [that impact turnout], it’s kind of at the end of the scale,” she said.

Richard Bann, a meteorologist with the NWS’ Weather Prediction Center in Maryland, said most voters should encounter good weather.

A large high-pressure area around Nevada, Utah and southeastern Idaho, along with another high-pressure swath around the Carolinas reaching from Texas to Maine, will produce generally clear, dry weather for most voters.

Rain or shine, Republicans looking to net six seats to take control of the Senate are determined to carry their campaigns across the finish line.

In Iowa, for example, Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst will make a dozen campaign stops in the final 24 hours leading into Tuesday’s face-off against Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley. The best chance of showers and thunderstorms are in central and southeastern parts of state, though its forecast is less clear-cut than other battlegrounds. 

“Joni’s supporters are so enthusiastic, they’d march through 5 feet of snow to pull the lever for her,” said Caitlin Conant, communications director for Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) who has worked on the Ernst campaign for the past six weeks.

Other states with tight Senate races, including New Hampshire, Kansas and Louisiana, are unlikely to be impacted by poor weather, based on NWS data.

Those hanging around Washington anxious to attend election night watch parties can expect a partly sunny Tuesday with temperatures in the 60s and nearly zero chance of rain.

Tags Bruce Braley Rob Portman

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