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Election 2016: Super Tuesday weather bodes well for voter turnout

With primary season well underway, Democrats and Republicans across 13 states will venture out to the polls this upcoming Super Tuesday, set for March 1.

Voters from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming will participate in their respective caucuses and primaries, making it the biggest day of 2016 Presidential Election season so far.

"It looks like we should have a positive turnout," AccuWeather Business Intelligence Manager and Meteorologist Tim Loftus said.

Loftus utilized L2 as a resource when conducting his research, which included analyzing weather trends and voter data to election seasons dating as far back as 1996. According to the research, weather does impact how some voters respond when making a decision to head to the polls.

Take a look at several of the states where data could be obtained on how weather may influence voters on Super Tuesday.


Currently, the weather forecast for Alabama looks to be cloudy, but dry as a storm exits the state prior to primary day.

"This may cause turnout to be lower due to the previous rainfall as previous rain lessens voter turnout," Loftus said.

"Female voters will be more deterred to hit the polls when Heating Degree Days, or HDD, are higher and the forecast temperatures in the northern sections of the state are supposed to dip below the comfortable 65 degrees as colder temperatures are dragged down behind the exiting storm system."

Heating Degree Days are used to reflect the average demand for energy consumption when outdoor temperatures dip to, or below, 65 F the average in which heating is required to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature of 70 F.

Overall turnout due to the weather impact is expected to be lower by a couple percentage points especially in the northern counties, he added.


Weather is expected to be quite impactful on Super Tuesday in Arkansas, Loftus said.

"Unsettled weather will likely decrease voter turnout across the state," he added.

According to Loftus' research, warmer weather accompanied by rain is a combination that is not so encouraging for voters.


Only a few counties in Georgia are expected to have an overall lower turnout compared to the 2012 primary election as most of the state should experience an above-average low temperature for primary day, Loftus said. This favors a higher turnout.

"The current forecast is for most of the region to be dry as a storm exits the Southeast on Feb. 29," he added. "Unlike Alabama voters, Georgians have an increase in turnout when wet conditions precede voting day. Young voters (18 to 24 year olds) are expected to have a higher turnout this year compared to 2012 due to expected comfortable temperatures. "


The Southern storm will move northeastward on Super Tuesday and currently poses a slight risk of bringing some snow to Massachusetts.

"Snowfall deters voters from venturing out to the polls, and so turnout is predicted to be lower especially from African-American voters," Loftus said.


Rain may dampen Oklahoma this year, but the anticipated weather conditions shouldn't impact turnout, Loftus said.

"Turnout should not change from 2012," he said, adding that it is likely to increase.

"Oklahomans are not deterred to hit the polls during rainy conditions. In fact, 2012 experienced rain on their primary election and turnout increased from previous years. Cold temperatures impacted voters more so but that should not be a problem this year."


Damp conditions are predicted across western Tennessee. Rain tends to boost turnout in western counties, according to Loftus.

Tennessee Republicans will have a higher turnout as temperatures are expected to be well above average, especially in central and eastern parts of the state. Overall, turnout is expected to be higher than 2012, according to Loftus.


Due to the sheer size of Texas, the weather and turnout will vary, Loftus said. Weather conditions may also be variable across the state, with showers possible in eastern and southern areas.

"Overall most counties will see either no change in turnout compared to 2012 or a slightly higher turnout," he said, adding that weather should be dry most of the time.

Fair conditions with low relative humidity, limited cloud cover [below 50 percent] and no rainfall increases turnout in Texas, according to Loftus' research.


Very little change in turnout is forecast in Vermont this year compared to 2012, Loftus said.

"Cloudy skies with a chance of snow showers does not have any negative impact to turnout during primary elections. In fact, the findings suggest, turnout actually increases during cloudier conditions in Vermont," he added.


Higher dew point temperatures favor higher turnout rates for Virginians, Loftus said.

"This year, with a storm approaching the region the day before, dew points should be higher compared to 2012 and therefore have a positive impact on voter turnout," he added.

Higher low temperatures should also favor turnouts of singles or family members with less than three people, and Europeans, according to his research.

Following back-to-back primary victories, Trump further clinched the Republican lead by winning the Republican Nevada caucuses on Tuesday, Feb. 23, according to the Associated Press.

In order to win the Republican nomination for president, 1,237 delegates are needed. At stake on March 1 is a total of 595 delegates, making Super Tuesday an important step forward, according to

For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is front runner, ahead of Bernie Sanders, and has secured wins in Iowa and Nevada.

According to a recent report from the Washington Post, Clinton's win in Nevada by five points makes Super Tuesday the biggest day in the primary season so far.

"All told, there will be 974 delegates at stake in the Democratic contest, or 40 percent of the 2,383 a candidate needs to secure the nomination," the Washington Post reported. "The big prize is Texas, with 252 delegates, followed by Georgia and Massachusetts with 116 each and Virginia with 110."

While weather does impact some voter turnout, according to AccuWeather Business Intelligence Manager Rosemary Radich, it is usually the air temperature that influences people's decision of whether to head to the polls or not, rather than precipitation.

When it comes to voter turnout, it really depends on a variety of other factors, including the enthusiasm level for the candidates, how close the race is and the individual's campaign success, Radich said.