Does Weather Make a Difference to Voter Turnout?

How much of an impact will rainy weather have on voter turnout in local elections on Wednesday? The Korea Meteorological Administration forecast overcast skies and scattered rain showers until Wednesday morning in the metropolitan area and central parts. The southern region will see sporadic rainfall as well.

In South Chungcheong and Jeolla provinces the rain stopped in the morning, while the Gyeongsang region and Jeju Island are forecast to see sporadic showers throughout the day. Gangwon Province and eastern parts will see brief rainfall late in the evening.

Politicians believe that clear weather on an election day benefits the ruling party, since younger voters, who usually back opposition candidates, head outdoors to enjoy the holiday, leading to greater participation among older, conservative voters. But rainy weather or cold temperatures are thought to benefit the opposition, since many older, conservative voters stay in.

However, ruling-party candidate Park Geun-hye was elected president even though temperatures dipped below 10 degrees Celsius, while in 1997 main opposition candidate Kim Dae-jung was elected when the mercury rose above 7 degrees.

In the 2010 local elections, the entire nation saw clear weather with voter turnout at 54.5 percent, the second highest ever after 68.4 percent in 1995, when local elections were held for the first time. But the local elections in 2002 saw a voter turnout of only 48.9 percent despite relatively good weather with slightly overcast skies, while in 1998 turnout was 52.7 percent despite rainy weather.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 04, 2014 09:54 KST