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Thunderstorms, heavy wind, and rain in the forecast for Election Day

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voters stand in the rain
Pennsylvanians
brave the rain to vote early Tuesday morning in the city of
Butler.


Keith
Srakocic/AP



  • The midterm elections are taking
    place across the US on Tuesday, but bad weather threatens to
    keep less committed-voters from the polls.
  • Every state east of the Mississippi River is expected to see
    rain at some point today while polls are open.
  • More severe weather is forecast in several states with
    contentious races, including Georgia, New Jersey, and Florida.

Polls opened across the country Tuesday morning as the nation
votes in the midterm elections, but bad
weather is threatening to impact several key races in the eastern
United States.

Every state east of the Mississippi River is likely to see rain
at some point while polls are open today,
CNN reported
, and there are several areas where more severe
weather — including thunderstorms and gusting winds — could keep
less-committed voters from the polls.

Democrats are hoping Tuesday’s elections win them back control of
Congress, but at least one study has shown
that Republicans have an advantage on rainy election days.


Read more:
See what time the polls open and
close in every state

Thunderstorms up and down the East Coast, snow in the Rockies,
and rain in the Midwest


Weather.com
predicts rain and thunderstorms to drench areas
of New England down to the northern Gulf Coast.

“A windy, raw day is in store in the Great Lakes, which may keep
some from venturing out to the polls,” Weather.com meteorologist
Jon Erdman said. “Some light snow in parts of the northern
Rockies shouldn’t be too much of an impediment for voters in
those areas.”

In Georgia and Florida, where two of the most contested
governors’ races are taking place today, scattered showers and
storms are expected.

A storm system that killed one in Tennessee last night is moving
east and will bring severe thunderstorms and heavy winds from
Charlotte, North Carolina to Philadelphia.


Accuweather
suggests that voters in the Greensboro, North
Carolina; Roanoke, Virginia; and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania areas
vote in the afternoon, since the morning is expected to be wet.

Washington, DC and Philadelphia are likely to be stormy in the
morning and the middle of the day, so voters there should aim to
go to the polls in the afternoon and evening if they want to stay
dry.

Meanwhile, Norfolk, Virginia; Raleigh, North Carolina; Dover,
Delaware; Atlantic City, New Jersey and New York City are
expected to have the best voting conditions in the morning,
before rain hits in the evening.

Jim Geraghty, senior political correspondent for the conservative
National Review,
tweeted
Tuesday morning that the rain was “coming down in
buckets” in northern Virginia, where close House elections are
taking place in the state’s 7th and 10th districts.

“Get ready for weather-scapegoating,” he said.

Could rain be good for Republicans?

Rain certainly will have an impact on the election, but to what
extent is unknown.

“Drizzle drives a few people away from the polls; a heavy
downpour keeps a whole bunch of them away,” Larry Powell,
pollster and professor of political communications at the
University of Alabama Birmingham, told Weather.com.

Powell says campaign organizers pay close attention to weather in
races, and will often organize transportation to take voters to
the polls if they’re hesitant to drive themselves.

He went on to say that inclement weather tends to favor the
incumbent.

“Sunny days benefit the challengers more than the incumbents,” he
said. “The incumbent voters are going to get to the polls
regardless.”

Some scientific research also suggests that Republicans have an
edge in bad weather.

A study
first conducted in 2015 and revised last month from researchers
at Dartmouth College and the Australian National University
showed that at least 1% of voting-age adults who would have voted
blue if the weather had been good, voted Republican instead on
rainy election days.

“Our study suggests that weather conditions may affect people’s
decisions on not only whether to vote but also who they vote
for,” Dartmouth government Professor Yusaku Horiuchi, a co-author
of the study, said in a news release.

A separate study from 2007,
conducted by Florida State University, also found a Republican
advantage on rainy election days.

But the lead author of the study, political scientist Greg Gomez,
said that the correlation is more pronounced in presidential
elections.

Gomez told Weather.com that the midterms are different since they
are disproportionately composed of “core voters” who are usually
more partisan and less susceptible to changing their mind.

“We would expect that bad weather is a bigger deterrent to voting
in presidential elections than in midterm elections; midterm
electorates simply are composed of a larger percentage of core
voters who are determined to vote rain or shine,” Gomez said.

He also says that more states now hold early voting, which wasn’t
the case when his study was conducted.

But this year’s elections are looking more like a presidential
election with possible record turnout for a midterm year, so it
remains to be seen how the weather will affect the results.

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