Friday, 22 September 2017

Elections, temperature and the irony of the 2000 US presidential election

Last month, Jamie Morton wrote in the New Zealand Herald about this article (open access), by Jasper van Assche (Ghent University) and others, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology back in June. In the article, van Assche et al. look at data from US presidential elections and temperature (specifically, they look at changes between elections in both those variables). They found that:
For each increase of 1°C (1.8°F), voter turnout increased by 0.14%.
Importantly though, there was also an effect on which party voters voted for. Specifically:
...although positive changes in temperature motivate some citizens to cast their votes for the non-system parties, they are an even stronger motivator for some citizens to vote for the incumbent government.
 I found this bit from the final paragraph of the paper laughably ironic:
Another example concerns the 2000 presidential election. Based on our model, an increase of only 1°C (1.8°F) may have made Al Gore the 43rd United States President instead of George W. Bush, as Gore would have won in Florida.
That's right. There wasn't nearly enough climate change to make Al Gore president in 2000.

New Zealand goes to the polls tomorrow (although in reality, many voters have made their choice already). Will the incumbent National government be worrying about the weather forecast?

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