Despite a record level of campaign spending, there’s no guarantee of a record turnout at today’s US midterm elections.
And in Maine, at least, voter numbers could be depressed, after a snowstorm struck the north-eastern state on Sunday morning, leaving at least 80,000 people without power.
Parts of the state were blanketed by almost two feet of snow, with winds reaching 50 miles per hour. While Tuesday dawned mostly clear, the electoral authorities were forced to move some polling locations at the eleventh hour, and to provide emergency generators and portable heating to draw reluctant voters from their snowed-in homes.
A 2007 study found that bad weather can affect voter turnout, and it is well known that lower voter numbers are good news for Republicans, whose supporters are more likely to show up regardless of the conditions. This year, even tiny factors could prove critical to the national outcome, which hinges on the results of a handful of narrowly contested states.
In pictures: Midterms 2014
In pictures: Midterms 2014
1/14 Red Oak, Iowa
Voters get an 'I VOTED TODAY' sticker after casting their ballots in Red Oak, Iowa
2/14 Washington, DC
A pollling station in Washington, DC. Most signs point toward President Barack Obama's party suffering crippling election setbacks.
Local resident Marybeth Davenport casts her ballot at a polling place at the Jamestown Town Hall
4/14 Red Oak, Iowa
Voters fill in their ballots at the Red Oak Fire Department in Red Oak, Iowa
5/14 Michelle Nunn
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn hugs phone bank volunteers on the eve of the mid-term election at her campaign headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Nunn is in a tight race against Republican opponent David Perdue.
6/14 Get Out the Vote Rally
Democrats hold a "Get Out the Vote Rally" for US Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, who is up for reelection, and other Democratic candidates, at Old Town Alexandria Market Square in Alexandria, Virginia, on the night before midterm elections.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
7/14 Kids Vote
A father helps his son vote in a special "Kids Vote" while Kentucky voters cast their votes at Northside Elementary School in Midway, Kentucky. The "Kids Vote" is designed to encourage children to exercise their right to vote when they reach legal voting age.
8/14 Searsmont, Maine
A handmade sign stuck in a snowbank on a rural road urges citizens to vote in Searsmont, Maine
9/14 Madbury, New Hampshire
Voters cast their ballots at Madbury Town Hall in Madbury, New Hampshire. There is a tight race for a U.S Senate seat between incumbent U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and former Massachusetts U.S. Senator Scott Brown.
10/14 Albany, New York
Voters fill out their ballots in a gym on election day in Albany, New York
11/14 Clay Aiken
Clay Aiken, Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in North Carolina's Second District, jokes with members of the media as he waits in line to vote
12/14 Louisville, Kentucky
Voters cast their ballots in the midterm elections at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.
13/14 Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell holds his ballot after placing his vote at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.
14/14 Alexandria, Virginia
A dog waits for its owner to vote at the polling station in the Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy in Alexandria, Virginia
That 2007 paper, by a trio of political scientists from the universities of California, Georgia and Pittsburgh, found that one inch of snowfall can depress turnout by almost 0.5 per cent. The forecast was good for most of the states hosting important races today, but some areas of Maine are buried under as many as 15 inches of snow.
President Obama ran away with the state at the 2012 Presidential election, but the tightest race in Maine today is between an incumbent Republican governor, Paul LePage, and his Democrat challenger Mike Michaud. The result is still a toss-up, and LePage may have the weather gods to thank if he scrapes back into office.
At the 2000 Presidential election, George W Bush finally declared victory thanks to just 537 votes in Florida, and the study speculated that some (potentially Democrat) voters were kept from the polls by rain in the Sunshine State. If not for that bad weather, history might have taken a very different turn.Reuse content