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How Much Does Weather Impact Voter Turnout?

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(credit: CBS) Matt Brickman
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It seems like every year we talk about what sort of impact the weather could have on the election. But Election Day snow is actually a rarity in Minnesota. Only twice in the last century has the Twin Cities seen even an inch of snow on Election Day.

One of those was in 1992.

A storm that dumped 15 inches of snow in Duluth, and nine inches in the Twin Cities over three days, was winding down. But that didn’t keep people away. Almost 74 percent of voters still showed up to the polls in Minnesota.

Compare that to four years later. On a day that will look a lot like Election Day this year, cloudy with highs in the mid-40s, Minnesota had its lowest voter turnout in the last 50 years — just 66 percent.

A 2007 study in The Journal of Politics shows Minnesota might be an outlier. It not only found that the impact of bad weather is significant, but also partisan.

It showed that Democrats are more likely to stay away from the polls in bad weather, giving Republican candidates a boost.

Looking at the opposite end of the spectrum, the nicest Election Day came in 2008, with a high of 71 degrees in the Twin Cities. Voter turnout on that day was very high 78 percent.

Read the full study here.

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