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Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora. (Photo: Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe)

Urban mayors prepare for rain

By Nikita Biryukov, November 05 2018 2:29 pm

Some New Jersey mayors are worried about the weather.

With election day on the now only hours away, the National Weather Service is forecasting New Jersey will see some rainfall — up to a quarter of an inch and more in areas that get hit by scattered thunderstorms the agency expects will hit parts of the state — and that rain could be further complicate the already-tight elections.

“The rain is always an issue on election day, and especially on one as important as this,” Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp said before he and 18 of the state’s other urban mayors stumped for Sen. Bob Menendez. “I would hope that the rain would stay away because turnout is extremely important.”

Conventional wisdom would say, much like Trenton Mayor Gusciora did, that Democrats tend not to come out in the rain.

While a study in 2007 did find that rain depressed turnout in a way that favored Republicans, there’s some dispute to that theory in recent research, both on the degree of the effect and on who benefits.

Research since has shown that undecided voters and those in the electorate who are less-engaged in the year’s races are more likely to stay home when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

That might be good news for Decmorats given that enthusiasm is high for that party in a year that many consider to be a referendum on President Donald Trump.

Still, much of that Democratic enthusiasm centers around retaking the house, and it’s possible voters in places like Trenton, Plainfield and Hoboken, where there are no competitive House races, might be more prone to staying home.

Some Democratic operatives have privately worried that low turnout in cities like those could give Bob Hugin a leg up over Menendez on Tuesday, though Democrats there have actively tried to diminish that possibility.

“We’ve been thinking about that for some time and preparing to let people know that there in fact is a competitive election,” Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said of that risk in his city, where Rep. Albio Sires’s reelection is all but assured. “It might not be local, but it’s national. And that in this election — where it’s so tight — every vote counts, even though you have a Quinnipiac poll that says there’s a 15-point separation.”

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