It was one of the highest turnouts ever recorded in any democratic election. When Scotland voted by a 10-point margin to stay within the United Kingdom on Thursday, an astonishing 86 percent of Scots turned out to cast their ballots. A huge component of that, of course, had to do with the importance of deciding whether or not to break a 307-year union, but weather likely also played a helping hand in swaying the droves of people to the polls.
A record turnout was likely aided by temperatures in the 60s in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. More importantly, no rain fell across the population corridor in central Scotland (which lies between Glasgow and Edinburgh, the capital), a small reason to celebrate in notoriously grey and damp Scotland (Glasgow averages over four inches of rain in September, and Edinburgh averages over 2.5). For those on the fence, a rainstorm could keep voters away.
But the weather wasn’t great everywhere in Scotland. In the far northern Orkney Islands, fog closed the local airport, forcing officials there to send ballot boxes by lifeboat. But the Orkneys (and the Shetland Islands) are extremely sparsely populated and not impacting the overall numbers.
Weather, somewhat naturally, has played an impact in voter turnout in years past. According to the Los Angeles Times, Republicans tend to do better when turnout is lower, and the worse the weather, typically, the lower the turnout. On the other side, Democrats have traditionally benefitted from higher turnouts.
In Scotland, however, good weather saw over 3.6 million people cast their ballots on Thursday, with slightly over two million of those electing to stay in the United Kingdom.
Meteorologist Chris Bianchi