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Iowa caucuses could be impacted by weather

How can bad weather help or hurt on election day?

Adriene Hill: Mother Nature often gets a say in elections -- bad weather can reduce turnout. So how could the weather change the outcome in this Tuesday's caucus in Iowa?

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall-Genzer joins us now live to help us figure this out. Good morning, Nancy.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer:Good morning, Adriene.

Hill: How could the weather impact turnout, and the result, of the Iowa caucus?

Marshall-Genzer: Adriene, you could say that gale force winds blow a lot harder than campaign bluster. Campaign watchers say really bad weather can skew the race toward the candidate with the most dedicated followers; elderly voters and the less committed supporters tend to stay home if it's snowing. The Des Moines register has researched this, and didn't find a connection between weather and turnout unless the weather is really bad.

I talked to American University history professor Allan Lichtman this morning about this. He says a blizzard would be a boon to Texas Congressman Ron Paul because he's got lots of young, eager supporters.

Allan Lichtman: I think there are people willing to put on their boots and trudge through six feet of snow for Ron Paul. I'm not sure there are that many willing to do that for any other candidate.

Hill: And do campaigns have to change the way they spend money, depending on the weather?

Marshall-Genzer: Yeah, Lichtman says they have to spend more money if the weather is lousy. They might have to rent four-wheel drive vehicles and hire extra drivers to get voters to the caucuses; maybe beef up their phone banks and make extra calls to make sure voters show up. But right now it looks like the candidates are not going to have to do that. The forecast is calling for clear skies for caucus day, above-average temperatures. And that means the less committed voters will show up -- aides for Governor Mitt Romney say a bigger turnout would benefit him. We'll see.

Hill: Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer-- thanks so much.

Marshall-Genzer: You're welcome.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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