Hostname: page-component-546b4f848f-bvkm5 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-06-04T13:07:26.973Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Mobilization and Voter Turnout: Should Canvassers Worry about the Weather?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 June 2013

J. Ryan Lamare*
Pennsylvania State University


This article melds a well-studied area of research (political mobilization effects on voter turnout) with a subject rarely discussed in political science (the effects of meteorological variability on mood, productivity, and fatigue) to argue that weather at the time of mobilization influences individual voters' turnout odds relative to other contacted voters. Using panel data totaling 39,769 registered voters contacted by unions across 14 months and five elections, quantitative analysis is used to measure the effects of temperature, seasonableness, and precipitation during contact on vote likelihood, controlling for known turnout influences. Results indicate that variations in all three weather conditions during contact affect vote odds. Mobilization effects are weaker as temperatures rise and weather becomes unseasonably hot; mobilization is also less successful as precipitation increases. Outcomes vary by contact type; door-to-door visits are more negatively influenced by hotter and less seasonable temperatures, whereas phone calls are more negatively affected by higher precipitation.

Copyright © American Political Science Association 2013 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Alexander, Donnell. 2005. “How the Vote Got Out.” Los Angeles CityBeat, November 10.Google Scholar
Anderson, Craig A. 1987. “Temperature and Aggression: Effects on Quarterly, Yearly, and City Rates of Violent and Nonviolent Crime.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52 (6): 1161–173.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Barnston, Anthony G. 1988. “Effect of Weather on Mood, Productivity, and Frequency of Emotional Crisis in a Temperate Continental Climate.” International Journal of Biometeorology 32 (2): 134–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baron, Robert A. 1972. “Aggression as a Function of Ambient Temperature and Prior Anger Arousal.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 21 (2): 183–89.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Boyanowsky, E. O., Calvert, J., Young, J., and Brideau, L.. 1981–82. “Toward a Thermoregulatory Model of Violence.” Journal of Environmental Systems 11 (1): 8187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cohn, Ellen G. 1990. “Weather and Crime.” British Journal of Criminology 30: 5164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Drust, B., Rasmussen, P., Mohr, M., Nielsen, B., and Nybo, L.. 2005. “Elevations in Core and Muscle Temperature Impairs Repeated Sprint Performance.” Acta Physiologica Scandinavia 183 (2): 181–90.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gerber, Alan S., and Green, Donald P.. 2000. “The Effects of Canvassing, Direct Mail, and Telephone Contact on Voter Turnout: A Field Experiment.” American Political Science Review 94 (3): 653–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gomez, Brad T., Hansford, Thomas G., and Krause, George A.. 2007. The Republicans Should Pray for Rain: Weather, Turnout, and Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections. Journal of Politics 69 (3): 649–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gosnell, Harold F. 1927. Getting-Out-the-Vote: An Experiment in the Stimulation of Voting. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Hicks, Rusty. 2008. Personal communication. July 3.Google Scholar
Hipp, John R., Bauer, Daniel J., Curran, Patrick J., and Bollen, Kenneth A.. 2004. “Crimes of Opportunity or Crimes of Emotion? Testing Two Explanations of Seasonal Change in Crime.” Social Forces 82 (4): 1333–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Howarth, E., and Hoffman, M. S.. 1984. “A Multidimensional Approach to the Relationship between Mood and Weather.” British Journal of Psychology 75 (1): 1523.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lamare, J. Ryan. 2010a. “Union Influence on Voter Turnout: Results from Three Los Angeles County Elections.” Industrial & Labor Relations Review 63 (3): 454–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lamare, J. Ryan. 2010b. “The Interactive Effects of Labor-Led Political Mobilization and Vote Propensity on Turnout: Evidence from Five Elections.” Industrial Relations 49 (4): 616–39.Google Scholar
Nybo, Lars. 2008. “Hyperthermia and Fatigue.” Journal of Applied Physiology 104 (3): 871–78.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Quetelet, Lainbert-Adolf-Jacques. 1842. A Treatise on Man: And the Development of His Faculties. Edinburgh: William and Robert Chambers.Google Scholar
Rotton, James, and Cohn, E. G.. 2004. “Outdoor Temperature, Climate Control and Criminal Assault: The Spatial and Temporal Ecology of Violence.” Environment and Behavior 36 (2): 276306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sanders, J. L., and Brizzolara, M. S.. 1982. “Relationships between Weather and Mood.” Journal of General Psychology 107 (1): 155–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar