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Will 'Frankenstorm' Impact the 2012 Presidential Election?

Paul Walsh | VP of Weather Analytics, The Weather Channel
Friday, 26 Oct 2012 | 11:41 AM ET
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There's an old saying in military planning circles regarding the weather: "The weather's never important until it's important … and then it's too late."

The same could be said regarding a presidential campaign.

As we enter the final days of the 2012 race, with each campaign raising and spending an unprecedented amount of money, the final call on who wins or loses may come down to something as simple as the weather on Election Day.

It turns out that when it comes to turnout, the weather is important. Really important.

The Weather Channel has partnered with Ipsos to get a read on how the weather would influence voter turnout.

And here's the headline: 35% of undecided voters say bad weather will impact their decision to head to the polls.

  • The risk from Hurricane Sandy is indirectly related to the actual storm; rather it's a function of four things, most of them bad for President Obama and Governor Romney:
  • Momentum loss due to the media distraction during the lead-up to the storm
  • Recovery efforts in key states like Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire
  • Voter turn-out issues from areas experiencing wide-spread power outages. This could include large portions of Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
  • Controversy following a close election related to voter turnout affected by the storm

Here are some other key findings from The Weather Channel/Ipsos:

  • Already-decided voters are more certain they'll vote, regardless of the weather. Among those who plan to vote and know which candidate they'll vote for, 19 percent say bad weather will impact whether they make it to the polls, as compared to 35 percent of undecided voters
  • In bad weather, Mitt Romney's supporters are more likely to vote. Among registered voters, 28 percent who support President Barack Obama are likely to say that bad weather would have a "significant or moderate impact" on their getting to the polls versus 19 percent of Gov. Romney's supporters
  • Icy conditions are the biggest weather roadblock. Among registered voters age 55 and older, 12 percent say icy road conditions would impact their ability to get to the polls. In the Northeast 11 percent and the Midwest 10 percent cite icy roads as a potential roadblock to voting.
  • Rain and cold temperatures can also keep voters home. In the western states – including battleground states Colorado and Nevada – 6 percent of registered voters say they wouldn't make it to the polls in "unseasonably cold" temperatures. Rain would keep 5 percent of voters home in those same states
  • Income levels make a difference. If you make less than $50,000 a year, you're more likely to "probably or definitely not" vote in inclement weather than those making more than $50,000 a year

The Weather Channel will be updating our polling in key swing states during the lead up to Election Day to get a final read on how the weather may impact turnout in the swing states. Be sure to tune into The Weather Channel and CNBC this Monday 10/29 and on Election Day morning for the latest.

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