Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Did Rain Hurt Obama?

It appears that rain may have cost Obama some votes (or even states) yesterday.

A poli sci grad student at UCLA has charted Obama's Super Tuesday performance where it rained versus where it didn't rain. In states where it didn't rain, Obama performed at or above expectations (i.e. he met or exceeded pre-election polls). Where it did rain, Obama only performed at expectations. In other words, the likelihood that Obama over-performed in a primary was greater if the weather was good.

Why would rain hurt Obama's turnout? According to my Bruin source, the answer probably lies in the fickleness of some Obama supporters. According to pre-February 5th exit polls, Obama is doing very well with (1) people who tend toward political independence and (2) voters under 45 years old. On average, political independents are notably less engaged in politics than partisans; among other effects of this lower engagement, they are less likely to be habitual voters. Thus their intended participation could be impeded by bad weather. Those with the voting habit are much less likely to say: Well it's raining, so I guess I won't vote today. The same considerations apply to younger voters: The voting habit is still being developed before age 40.

There are two things Obama can do to help his turnout in light of these findings. First, he should talk to the Chinese about weather control. Second, he would do well to put voter mobilization at the top of his investment list. He's swayed a number of people to be generally willing to vote for him--now he just needs to literally deliver them to the polls.

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