Thursday, 23 May 2013

Weather and election outcomes

Thanks to Discover magazine, I learn that a study by the University of Nijmegen has investigated the effect of weather on voting patterns in the Netherlands. Over a span of forty years there is a small but significant disadvantage to non-Conservative parties resulting from bad weather on election day, the study finds.

The abstract on the Discover site raises more questions than it answers. Perhaps the full paper goes into them in more detail, but it is tantalising to have a glimpse of these data from a nation which is so close to us genetically but somewhat different electorally. What are the common factors? Do the Dutch have a significant postal vote? Is there a tradition of election-day cars provided by party volunteers? Did it make a difference as to whether the Christian Democrats (Conservatives) were in power or in opposition?

One of the bits of electoral lore I picked up during my early days as a party worker was that fine weather tends to favour the party in power. It would be interesting to know whether this is still true, if it ever was. Something which probably has changed over the years is the advantage to Conservatives of car ownership, but it would be nice if evidence for this could be teased out.

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