Los Angeles-area residents planning to cast their ballots Tuesday will have to withstand expected rainy conditions that could affect voter turnout, according to local political experts.
The Southland is expected to see steady rainfall throughout Tuesday, with at least an inch of rain expected in some areas. Though everyone has the option to submit ballots by mail, that still requires heading out the door to drop ballots in mailboxes or vote centers.
Inspired voters will vote no matter what, but the wet weather could keep some people on the fence of voting from participating in the election, according to Mindy Romero, director of USC’s Center for Inclusive Democracy.
That might apply to people who aren’t enthusiastic about a particular candidate and feel like they might be voting for the “lesser of two not great candidates,” Romero told City News Service.
“Then it’s not going to be necessarily a big negative for you not to participate,” Romero said.
Fernando Guerra, professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University, told CNS that, in his experience with voter turnout data, “so many people say they want to vote and they’re going to vote — and they don’t vote.”
“Definitely, the weather will dampen turnout day of,” Guerra said. “You’re waiting to go out, and it’s pouring. And you say, `Hey, I’m still going to do it, but I’m going to wait a little bit.’ And then you get distracted, and you look out the window again, and again it’s raining. And you say, `I’ll wait a little bit longer.’ Before you know it, it’s past eight o’clock.”
Guerra estimated that 15% of voters were expected to cast their ballots on Election Day in-person, which could make a difference in a tight race such as the Los Angeles mayoral election, where polls heading into Tuesday indicated a tightening race between Rep. Karen Bass and developer Rick Caruso.
Bass had a double-digit lead just a month ago among likely voters, but Caruso closed the gap to within four percentage points in late October, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll.
“What worries me is: it is raining,” Bass said on an Instagram Live with actress Rosario Dawson on Monday. “Since we don’t like rain, I have to make sure that people vote. We can’t lose this election because of the rain. That would be crazy.”
But it may be the Caruso campaign that faces more challenges with wet weather, according to the experts. Caruso has gained supporters among undecided voters, the UC Berkeley IGS poll indicated, as he has ramped up neighborhood canvassing.
“He needs to make a real in-person push amongst voters,” Romero said, adding that in order for Caruso to win, he needs for the voter turnout to outperform what the polling has indicated.
Voter turnout in the June primary was 28%.
In-person voting also tends to favor the more conservative candidate, according to the experts.
“He’s a Democrat,” Romero said. “But we understand that if you’re a Republican, you’re much more likely to vote for Caruso than you are for Bass.”
On Monday afternoon, Caruso posted pictures of himself with his supporters on Twitter.
“Rain or shine, our Solutions for Change bus tour kicks off its last day!” he wrote, in part. “Now let’s get those ballots in!”