Rain or sun? This is the influence of weather on election turnout

Rain or sun? This is the influence of weather on election turnout
Rain or sun? This is the influence of weather on election turnout

First of all, some reassurance: it is not going to rain heavily. In fact, it remains mainly dry on election day, says William Huizinga, meteorologist at Buienradar. “It’s going to be quite a nice day. Although you can of course debate the definition of nice weather.”

Most polls open at 7:30 am. If you want to go early in the morning, you have to be careful, says Huizinga. “Inland you can sometimes slip on frozen slippery bridges. As a driver you also have to take into account scratching windows. This can cause delays to the polling station.”

In the western half of the country it is 2 to 5 degrees in the morning, in the eastern half we drop by a maximum of -2 degrees below freezing. “We get a fresh start to the day.” The wind is weak at that time and it is dry.

Warmer at night

That temperature rises as the day progresses. In the afternoon it is a maximum of 9 degrees in the west, 6 in the center and 5 in the east of the country. The wind will then be weak to moderate. “And it will be dry until the end of the afternoon.”

It gets even warmer in the evening. “That is because warm air is supplied.” Around closing time of the polls – at 9 p.m. – the average temperature is 8 degrees. “At the stroke of midnight it will even be 10 degrees.” Some rain may fall from the northwest in the evening. “But not much. Just some splashing. The wind is moderate in most places and quite strong in coastal areas.”

But the question is: does that have any influence on our voting behavior at all? The average turnout in elections is about 80 percent. The lowest turnout was recorded in 1998 at 73 percent. It rained that day and it was about 14 degrees. The highest turnout was recorded in May 1977, at 88 percent. It was 25 degrees at the time and the sun was shining. On the coldest voting day, November 29, 1972, 83.5 percent of the people came to vote. That day it was 7 degrees and raining.

The warmer, the more voters

In short: a higher turnout on a warmer day. Apart from the fact that it can of course also have reasons other than the weather, it is true that people are more likely to vote when the weather is good. Ten years ago, Joop van Holsteyn, professor of Political Behavior and Research Methods at the University of Leiden, delved into scientific literature about the influence of the weather on voting behavior. “Sound scientific research supports the idea that the weather does have a demonstrable influence on electoral behavior, turnout in particular.”

Research from Radboud University Nijmegen confirms this: the weather can have (a small) influence on our voting behavior. Using data from the KNMI, sociologists conducted research into the effects of the weather on turnout during 13 elections between 1971 and 2010. This data was collected by approximately 40 official measuring stations and more than 200 voluntary observations.

If it rains a lot – and we are talking about 25 millimeters of precipitation or more – then turnout is about 1 percent lower. If it is 10 degrees warmer than average, the turnout is 1 percent high according to the research.

No crazy voting weather

In the previous elections in 2021, the turnout was 78.7 percent, slightly below average. That is in line with the research, says Huizinga. “It was 8 degrees then, cloudy, it rained occasionally and a little bit of sun. No weather to stop you from voting.”

It will be similar again on Wednesday. “It’s just a bit drier and the sun is missing a bit. The weather is pleasantly gray.” Is the weather decisive for you? Then you have the best voting weather at the end of the morning and in the beginning of the afternoon, says Huizinga. “Then there is relatively little wind and the temperature rises slightly. It is cloudy, but at the same time dry. Overall, it is not bad weather.”

The article is in Dutch


Tags: Rain sun influence weather election turnout


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