Weather and Voter Turnout: Kentucky Primary and General Elections, 1990-2000


Weather and politics are seldom discussed together. Yet, conventional wisdom has long held that inclement election-day weather (e.g., rain or low temperature) inhibits voter participation. While this alleged relationship has been taken for granted, this unofficial "weather hypothesis" has not been formally or directly tested using observed aggregate turnout data. Our paper tests the statistical relationship between observed voter turnout and election-day weather conditions for all Kentucky counties over 10 general-primary election cycles between 1990 and 2000. Using ordinary least squares regression, the results suggest weather events statistically account for observed variation in voter turnout and the statistical relationship varies based on election type, party affiliation, geography, and the specific character of an election cycle.