The Political Power of Weather29 Dec , 2011 | 8
Most Americans are gearing up for a big election year in 2012. Next week will get the ball rolling with the Iowa Caucus for the Republican candidates. Many Iowans will be going outside to vote for their top Republican candidate. Here’s what is interesting…Mike Huckabee (a former Presidential Candidate) believes that if weather is poor during the voting period, Ron Paul will be the winner. And if the weather is good, Mitt Romney should win. In this post, I’ll take a look at the “Political Power of Weather”.
I’ve always been intrigued about how weather affects voter turnout. A couple of researchers from various universities took a look at this and determined that bad weather favors Republicans over Democrats. You can read the full article, here.
Now within the Republicans, some pundits believe that bad weather favors the more “extreme candidate” with the most devout followers (ie those voters that are so passionate about the candidate they will go through blizzard conditions to vote). Hence, it’s probably why Huckabee mentioned that Ron Paul would win if there would be bad weather. And of course it has to do with how well the candidate is doing in the polls too (ie perception).
But here’s where it really gets interesting. Let’s say there is a snowstorm coming in and it will brush parts of a state. Pundits/Analysts already have each county or town micro-analyzed in how they vote. So what they do is they’ll have weather forecasters micro-analyze what parts of the state will get the inclement weather around voting time. Then they’ll figure out who is more likely to “stay at home” vs venture into the snowstorm to vote. This means that areas that have bad weather may favor one candidate, and areas that do not may favor another. And of course on the flip side, if the weather is good, more folks will come out and vote which (according to the researchers above) will favor the “less extreme” and more moderate candidate. And that ladies and gentleman is how weather can affect voter turnout and politics.
I know I’m going to venture off topic from my normal blog posts here…but I’ve always wondered why we haven’t adopted an online voting system. This country has moved so forward in technology, but our voting system is stuck in “old school” territory. Forget that, even “registering to vote” can sometimes be a hassle. My solution would be to take weather out of the voter turnout game by allowing voters the ability to vote online.
So why aren’t we voting online yet? I think “fear” is the answer. We are scared of major security hacks. We are scared of voter fraud. We are scared of server crashes. The list goes on….and yes some of this is absolutely true.
When I lived in Oregon, we voted from the goodness of our own home…not from a computer but through the mail. We would be mailed a voting pamphlet…we’d fill it out, sign it, and mail it back. And it seemed to work just fine. But what would happen if we were on vacation at that time? We would have missed out on voting.
Honestly, I don’t think there is a single perfect voting system out there. There will always be voter fraud and security issues in any voting system we use. But I think we need to look at ways to mitigate risks in the area of online voting systems. Some states are trying electronic voting at polling places. I’m not sure that really solves this problem, other than moving away from paper ballots.
We have some of the smartest brains in technology out here; some of whom have developed sites for the CIA, NSA, major banks, etc. It’s really scary to think that someone could hack into my online bank account and start wiring all my money into their account overseas. But many of us still use online banking. Or it’s really scary to think that people could steal vital intelligence information from the CIA or NSA. Yet they’re still online too. I think the country’s technological minds can do better when it comes to online voting systems.
I also feel that a person who is stuck due to inclement weather should still have the same right to vote if they can’t make it to the polling place. Some may be braver than others and are willing to withstand Mother Nature. And I commend them. But others are more cautious and would rather be safe than sorry. And that makes sense too especially if the weather is quite bad. I think it’s time to take weather out of the equation to determine voter turnout. I think electronic voting would be less of a hassle overall, make it easier for absentee voters around the world to vote, and give everyone an equal opportunity to vote regardless of what the weather is outside.
And just so you’re clear…I don’t think it makes sense to do away with polling places. I think we should have a combination of voting options for the voter to choose from. Because let’s say a person’s internet connection is down at home, they should still have the option to go to a polling place or vote online elsewhere. And I would agree that each state should have their own voting methodologies in place to determine what’s best for them.
Bottom line, weather currently influences politics like it does every other human outdoor activity. But isn’t it time we make it easier for everyone to vote and take weather out of politics? What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts! (Photo credit: Pioneer Press)