It's going to be raining all day on the East Coast, and history shows that favors Republicans

  • With voters along the Eastern Seaboard getting wet heading to the polls this Election Day, political scientists and meteorologists are attempting to game out whether the inclement weather could affect election results.
  • The weather has taken on unusual significance, because it can be a quiet determinant of voter behavior. Studies have shown that bad weather can depress turnout, particularly among groups likely to vote for Democrats.
Volunteers with the Democratic party take cover from the rain as they wait to speak to voters outside of a polling station during the mid-term elections at the Fairfax County bus garage in Lorton, Virginia on November 6, 2018.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
Volunteers with the Democratic party take cover from the rain as they wait to speak to voters outside of a polling station during the mid-term elections at the Fairfax County bus garage in Lorton, Virginia on November 6, 2018.

Health care. Immigration. Rain?

With voters along the Eastern Seaboard getting wet heading to the polls this Election Day, political scientists and meteorologists are attempting to game out whether the inclement weather could be an issue affecting voters this cycle.

The forecast Tuesday is for scattered, severe thunderstorms. The weather has taken on unusual significance, because it can be a quiet determinant of voter behavior. Studies have shown that bad weather can depress turnout, particularly among groups likely to vote for Democrats.

A recent study published in the journal American Politics Research rebuts some of those findings, but its results are no better for those on the left. Researchers found that bad weather can actually increase turnout — but just among those voting for Republicans.

The bad weather will stretch from from south of New York City to Georgia, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, according to Jonathan Erdman, a senior meteorologist at weather.com and IBM. In Tennessee, the wind gusts were severe enough to damage homes and knock a fire truck off the road.

Starting around 2 p.m., more precipitation will move through Maine, beginning in the south of the state and heading eastward.

Parts of the Upper Midwest will be dealing with "some raw, windy, cold, wet weather," said Erdman. In North Dakota, voters will have to tread through some snow, but the roads will stay open.

But, experts caution, the effect of the weather on voting this cycle could be erased by high voter enthusiasm.

"I just don't see it being an issue," said Al Roker, a meteorologist and the weather anchor on NBC's "TODAY." "At least, today. I don't think the weather is bad enough. I think people on both sides are motivated enough to go out and vote."

Roker said when he voted earlier, there was a long line at the polls. Long lines, particularly amid a trend toward fewer polling locations, could be more of an issue than the weather.

Massive early voting numbers point to record turnout this year, with more than 35 million people casting their votes before Election Day even began.

Science backs up the idea that competitive elections are less susceptible to the effects of precipitation.

In 2011, researchers affiliated with Harvard University found that "while rain decreases turnout on average, it does not do so in competitive elections."

With Democrats aiming to take back the House of Representatives, and Republicans hoping to hold onto control of the government for the remainder of President Donald Trump's first term in office, the elections this cycle are as competitive as ever.

Democrats need to gain 23 seats in Republican-held districts in order to take the lower chamber. While pollsters believe the outcome is likely, it is far from certain.

Erdman said that despite the mucky weather on Tuesday, there is some silver lining to the storm clouds.

"If there is some good news to this, at least it's not cold," he said.