How Wind Speed Affects Voting Decisions
28 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2016 Last revised: 19 Jul 2017
Date Written: May 31, 2017
Many theories of democracy propose that individuals make voting decisions after deliberately considering electoral options. The current research, however, finds that an incidental factor — wind speed on Election Day — affects voting decisions. We present a causal model for how wind speed affects voting decisions: higher wind speed increases a psychological prevention focus that makes voters more inclined to select prevention-focused options (e.g., reflecting safety) over promotion-focused options (e.g., reflecting risk and change). Archival analyses of four elections (the “Brexit” vote, the Scotland independence referendum, 10 years of Swiss referendums, and 100 years of US presidential elections), one field study, and one lab experiment found that individuals exposed to higher wind speed become more prevention-focused and more likely to support prevention-focused electoral options. Notably, analyses also revealed that wind speed only affected elections involving clear prevention versus promotion options. The findings highlight the importance of incidental environmental factors for voting decisions.
Keywords: elections, weather, regulatory focus
JEL Classification: D72, D81
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation