Turnout and weather disruptions: Survey evidence from the 2012 presidential elections in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Narayani Lasala-Blanco, Robert Y. Shapiro, Viviana Rivera-Burgos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper examines the rational choice reasoning that is used to explain the correlation between low voter turnout and the disruptions caused by weather related phenomena in the United States. Using in-person as well as phone survey data collected in New York City where the damage and disruption caused by Hurricane Sandy varied by district and even by city blocks, we explore, more directly than one can with aggregate data, whether individuals who were more affected by the disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy were more or less likely to vote in the 2012 Presidential Election that took place while voters still struggled with the devastation of the hurricane and unusually low temperatures. Contrary to the findings of other scholars who use aggregate data to examine similar questions, we find that there is no difference in the likelihood to vote between citizens who experienced greater discomfort and those who experienced no discomfort even in non-competitive districts. We theorize that this is in part due to the resilience to costs and higher levels of political engagement that vulnerable groups develop under certain institutional conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-152
Number of pages12
JournalElectoral Studies
Volume45
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Local institutions
  • Presidential elections
  • Turnout
  • United States
  • Voting behavior
  • Weather

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations

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