Weather wins endorsement
One thing is certain: It won't dampen turnout.
If nature appeared anywhere on the ballot today, it would be hard to beat.
The forecast calls for wall-to-wall sunshine from Marcus Hook to Erie, from Cape May Point to High Point, with a 100 percent chance that it will enliven the remnants of the resurgent fall colors. Temperatures everywhere will be in the 60s.
Turnouts typically are low in off-year elections, and should that be the case this time, we know for certain that we can't blame the weather.
Not that we ever can. Our own research has found no hard evidence that weather has any effect on turnout.
Loyal readers may recall that we looked at 30 years of election returns in Philadelphia, and among the 10 with the highest turnouts, measureable rain fell on half of them. Of the 10 with the lowest turnouts, seven were rain-free.
We don't know how the long the concept of a weather-turnout relationship has existed. We do know that in his Making of the President 1960, Theodore White suggested that fine weather across the country buoyed turnout and helped Sen. John F. Kennedy win his narrow victory over Vice President Richard M. Nixon.
A counterpoint: The late weather historian David Ludlum noted that the weather wasn't particularly pleasant in Illinois, which turned out to be the key in sealing Kennedy's victory.
That aside, Nov. 8, 2011, looks like a great day for voting -- or playing hooky.