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The 2016 Presidential Election season officially gets underway on Monday evening, Feb. 1, with the Iowa caucuses, and an advancing storm may affect voter turnout in part of the state.
Voters from Iowa's 99 counties will meet in caucuses as the first step to determine who will represent the state at the Republican and Democratic national conventions.
However, a winter storm moving in from the Intermountain West will unleash a blizzard from Colorado to Iowa and northern Michigan into early Wednesday.
The voting prospects weather-wise could become precarious before the close of the caucuses because of the incoming storm system. Wintry precipitation will arrive in part of the state during Monday evening.
The caucuses are scheduled to be begin at 7:00 p.m. CST.
"Enough snow, ice and rain will occur to make roads slippery in the southwestern part of Iowa as people are heading home from the caucuses," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. "The worst of the storm will spread northeastward across the state later Monday night into Tuesday."
Temperatures on Monday evening will range from near 25 F along the border of Minnesota to near 40 F in far southeastern Iowa.
Precipitation will range from snow in western areas, rain in the southeastern areas and a wintry mix in between during the overnight hours. Dangerous blizzard conditions will rapidly evolve from Council Bluffs to Mason City, including Sioux City during Tuesday.
According to recent research of how weather has affected voter turnout at presidential primaries in Florida, New Hampshire and South Carolina, inclement weather is an added factor that could deter swing voters. The research, conducted by AccuWeather Business Intelligence Manager and Meteorologist Tim Loftus, analyzed overall weather trends and voting data, utilizing L2 as a resource.
Rain is not necessary to deter voters, but uncomfortable conditions, such as frigid or hot and muggy weather, do play a role, according to Rosemary Radich, AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions business intelligence manager.
"Women [voters] tend to be affected by the cold more than men," Radich said, adding that the conditions expected for the Iowa caucuses could be detrimental to the female vote.
Candidates like Bernie Sanders who target young people may also feel an impact. Voters between the ages of 18 and 24 have higher turnout rates when the weather is sunny and warm.
The old adage that Republicans "pray for rain" turns out to be true in presidential elections, according to a 2007 study in The Journal of Politics.
The study "The Republicans Should Pray for Rain: Weather, Turnout, and Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections" found that as rain and snow increase above their respective election day normals, the better the Republican presidential candidate fared.
For every 1-inch increase in rain above its Election Day normal, the Republican presidential candidate received approximately an extra 2.5 percent of the vote, the study showed.
For every 1-inch increase in snow above normal, the Republican candidate’s vote share increases by approximately 0.6 of a percent.
After Iowa, the first-in-the-nation primary will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 9, in New Hampshire.
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