Mild weather could boost voter turnout on Election Day
Mild, dry weather expected this week could play a significant role in boosting voter turnout as polling places prepare for longer-than-usual lines amid a historic pandemic.
President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are fighting over one of the most expansive battlegrounds in modern history, and minor adjustments in turnout in key swing states could make an outsize impact in who ultimately takes the White House.
Research has shown that the weather on Election Day can have a noticeable impact on voter turnout. A 2007 study showed that rain “significantly reduces voter participation by a rate of just less than 1% per inch, while an inch of snowfall decreases turnout by almost .5%.”
And a 2017 report found that a “positive change in temperature on Election Day remained significantly related to an increase in voter turnout. For each increase of 1°C (1.8°F), voter turnout increased by 0.14%.”
What makes the weather’s impact on this Election Day unique is the expected partisan effect it could have. With the spike in early voting across the nation being fueled largely by Democrats, Republican voters are expected to make up the difference during in-person voting on Tuesday — and impacts the weather has on Tuesday could disproportionately affect those voting for GOP candidates.
Here’s what the weather forecast predicts for Election Day 2020 by region:
The weather across New England Tuesday should be cool and relatively dry, with highs ranging from the mid-30s to low-40s and low chances of rain. That’s slightly lower than usual, with the average temperature on Nov. 3 falling somewhere between the mid-40s and mid-50s in Boston, according to Weather Spark, but the lack of precipitation could halt a stark depression in turnout.
The forecast across the Northeast Tuesday is warm and dry, prime weather for high turnout this Election Day. Manhattan will see a high of 47 degrees, and temperatures will hit the low 50s in Philadelphia.
The top prize of the Northeast is Pennsylvania, which will grant 20 electoral votes. The Keystone State had voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every race since 1988 but backed Trump by about 44,000 votes in 2016, lifting him over Hillary Clinton by under 1 percent there. The good weather in Philadelphia is particularly positive news for Democrats, who are banking on high turnout in the blue-hued city and its surrounding suburbs.
There are also a handful of competitive House races in Staten Island and New York City’s suburbs, as well as New Jersey.
The weather in the Mid Atlantic will be similarly warm and dry, with Washington seeing a high of 57 degrees on Tuesday. Outside of some House races in the Virginia suburbs, there are no competitive races in this region this cycle.
There’s little chance of rain across the South this Tuesday, and temperatures will be comfortable, laying the groundwork for strong turnout in a region littered with battleground states.
Charlotte, N.C. will see a high of 65 degrees and just a 10 percent chance of rain, temperatures will hit 63 degrees in Atlanta, also with a 10 percent chance of rain at night, Miami will hit a high of 77 degrees with minimal chance of precipitation and Houston will also hit the low-70s.
A number of swing states are located in the South, a region that has the potential to determine the winner of the White House race. Polls show Biden with a slight lead in North Carolina and a neck and neck race in Georgia, Florida and Texas, which combined will allocated 83 electoral votes.
The Midwest has just as much power to determine the next president as the South, and the two regions will have similar weather this Election Day as well.
Detroit and Milwaukee will both see minimal chances of rain and temperatures in the mid-50s, while Des Moines, Iowa will almost hit 70 degrees and Topeka, Kan., will hit 74 degrees.
Trump nearly swept the Midwest battlegrounds in 2016, winning Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin and losing Minnesota by a razor-thin margin. His path to reelection likely runs through winning at least three of those states, though polls show Biden with leads in Michigan and Wisconsin and running essentially tied with Trump in Iowa and Ohio, which went for the president by wide margins in 2016 and had initially been written off by Democrats.
There is also a competitive open Senate race brewing in Kansas between Rep. Roger Marshall (R) and Republican-turned-Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier.
The Southwest is not chock full of battlegrounds but will see high temperatures and a dry climate on Tuesday.
Phoenix will hit 92 degrees on Tuesday, and Las Vegas will see highs in the mid-80s.
Arizona is the only true competitive state in the region, with polls showing Biden up there. It is also home to a competitive Senate race, where surveys show Democrat Mark Kelly well-positioned to unseat Sen. Martha McSally (R).
The Trump campaign has touted Nevada as a possible flip opportunity, though it is not expected to be a particularly tight race.
The West Coast is the only region in the country expected to see some rainfall this Tuesday, though no states there are really in play at the presidential level.
Seattle will see temperatures in the mid-50s and a 60 percent chance of rain, while Portland, Ore. will see similar temperatures and also has a 60 percent chance of precipitation. There are no highly competitive races in either Washington state or Oregon beyond the contest to unseat Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.
California will see better weather, with Los Angeles facing a 0 percent chance of rainfall and temperatures in the low 80s. The state is not competitive in the White House race, but the Los Angeles suburbs are home to a number of competitive House races.
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