Bad weather is one problem the 2020 election won't have

The US is on pace to see the most billion-dollar disasters in one year. Wildfires have burned at record rates through the West. This historic hurricane season is racing through its second alphabet of storm names. One would have just expected this Election Day would have a massive blizzard or some other weather calamity.

But that isn’t happening. The weather will mostly be dry and warm for a vast majority of the country — good news for those who waited to brave the outdoor lines on Election Day.

And possibly good news for Democrats.

Weather can play a significant role in voting behavior, with lousy weather generally suppressing turnout.

Research has shown it could have swung a couple of elections.

One study from 2007 found that Richard Nixon would probably have edged out John F. Kennedy in the close 1960 election if the weather had turned foul in a few key states. Conversely, if Florida had seen drier conditions in 2000, simulations show Al Gore likely would have carried the state and thus won the presidency.
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“In close elections, the weather becomes one of many factors that can be determinative,” the authors of the study published in The Journal of Politics said. “It is clear from our results that Republicans benefit from precipitation on Election Day.”

During the 2016 election, Michigan and Ohio — two battleground states — were hit with gray skies and rain throughout Election Day. Donald Trump won them both. While Michigan had higher voter turnout than in 2012, it was mostly in rural areas. Metropolitan areas like Detroit — which historically leans Democratic — had a lower voter turnout than in 2012, proving the study’s point perhaps.

However, in 2016, President Trump also won other battleground states, like Pennsylvania, with good weather.

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But if the 2007 study is right, and poor weather favors Republicans, Democrats may want to take the advice of the study’s authors: “To offset these Republican gains, Democrats must take action to counteract the increased cost of voting among their supporters. Otherwise, Democrats may wish to ‘pray for dry weather.'”

Where weather could make an impact

There are a few places where weather could have a slight impact Tuesday.

Check the forecast for a specific location >>>

A clipper — a fast-moving low pressure weather system — will track through the Northeast on Tuesday. It will bring some light snow during the morning hours from upstate New York to New Hampshire. There may even be a little snow in southern Maine.

“The snow will be lake enhanced, off of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario as winds blow in an easterly direction off the lakes,” CNN meteorologist Haley Brinks says. “The highest chance for snow will be in the morning hours, clearing through the evening.”

The clipper will usher in some colder air across the region with temperatures running 10 to 15 degrees below normal in New England with highs in the 30s and 40s.

The only other place in the country with yucky weather will be the Pacific Northwest. A system will bring rain and gusty winds to western Washington state. But let’s face it, folks, they are kind of pros at doing things in the rain.

Temperatures there will be near normal with highs in the 50s.

Hawaii will have pleasant weather, particularly in the morning hours. “Trade winds will strengthen to locally moderate levels Tuesday,” the National Weather Service said, “boosting cloud cover and windward shower activity over the eastern half of the island chain.”

Much of Alaska will be 10 to 20 degrees below the average temperature Tuesday, but nothing they can’t handle. Skies will be mostly clear with the northwestern part of the state seeing accumulating snow through the day.

For the other — roughly three-fourths the country — it will be a clear, beautiful, above-average autumn day.

Temperatures across the Southwest will be 15 to 20 degrees above normal with highs in the 80s and 90s.

Across the Northern Plains and Rockies, temperatures will run 20 to 30 degrees above normal with highs in the 60s and 70s.

The Southern and Central Plains will also see above-average temperatures with highs in the 70s and 80s.

From the Midwest down into the Southeast, temperatures will be near average. Highs in the Midwest will be in the 50s and 60s, and the Southeast will see highs in the 60s and 70s.

While the weather map may look a bit more red than usual, it isn’t necessarily a sign the electoral map will be the same.

Suppose you believe the weather map and the 2007 study; the weather then favors the Democrats Tuesday. But Democrats are thought to have mostly voted early. What is likely left behind is a beautiful weather day for everyone who conservatively waited to cast their ballots.

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