DISCUSSION: With less than two weeks to go before the 2016 US presidential elections, many people are trying to determine who’s going to win. People often look to correlations with sporting events or personal characteristics that may indicate the winning candidate or party. There’s been the height factor – which candidate is taller, the Washington Redskins rule, the World Series factor among others. The Washington Redskins rule refers to the outcome of the last Washington Redskins home game indicating which party might win. The World Series rule refers to whether the American or National League team wins signaling which party may win.
Are there any indicators from the world weather and climate that may indicate which party is favored? Might the phase of El Nino indicate which party will take the Whitehouse? El Nino refers to the changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation that occurs in the tropical Pacific Ocean region and has a periodicity of 2-7 years. These changes impact the daily and seasonal weather patters world wide, and can then influence other environmental conditions or factors.
Since 1868, there have been 36 US presidential elections and the Republican Party has captured 20 of these, while the Democrat Party has taken 16. We then looked up whether or not each election was associated with the Pacific Region being classified as El Nino, La Nina or neutral. Of the 20 elections won by the Republican Party five each were classified as El Nino and La Nina years, while 10 were classified as neutral years. This distribution is qualitatively similar to the distribution of all El Nino, La Nina, and neutral years indicating no preference.
Looking at the 16 elections won by the Democrat Party 10 were classified as neutral years, while two and four were classified as El Nino and La Nina years, respectively. This distribution leans slightly toward La Nina preferences if one ignores the occurrence of neutral years. However, the distribution is not statistically different from the total distribution of all years. This is primarily due to the small number of observations.
We also looked at the ENSO phase of the months leading up to the election and the same conclusion can be drawn. So it appears that Mother Nature is not an indicator of who might win US presidential elections, or is strictly non-partisan. This is what we might expect.
In fact, the success rate of the World Series and the Redskins rule have impressive success rates in spite of their small sample size. This column does not reflect the views of GWCC or the author, and does not endorse any party or candidate. It was, however, meant to entertain weather enthusiasts as we come to the end of the political season in the USA.
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~Meteorologist Anthony Lupo