He may very well be the least stressed human being in America. Maybe even the world. More than a week after the presidential election, a south Georgia man still does not know who is going to be the next president of the United States.
“I was invited to an election party to stay up into the night with everybody gnawing their nails, hanging on and I thought, oh there has to be a better way,” Joe Chandler told Fox News.
Chandler opted to go to bed on election night without finding out if Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton was declared the winner. He told Fox he intended to find out who won the next morning, but when he woke up, he felt so peaceful he decided to wait until the afternoon. Then a few hours turned into a few days, then a week.
“Having subtracted myself from this political fracas and all of the mayhem of the digital media, I kind of found the center of the cyclone, it is very peaceful in my bubble of ignorance,” said Chandler.
He works from home and has managed to steer clear of televisions, newspapers, and social media. If he goes out, he takes along a few extra tools: headphones and a sign that reads, “I don’t know who won and don’t want to. Please don’t tell me.”
Chandler also has very specific rules about what people can, and can’t, talk to him about. “Even if I overhear another conversation like, ‘Can you believe he won, can you believe she won,’ all it would take is a pronoun,” he told King5.com.
“I say, ‘Listen, before we begin the conversation, I don’t know who won, and I don’t want to, so please don’t tell me’ and people have honored that,” he added.
Chandler didn’t reveal who he voted for, so whether he’ll celebrate or mourn when he eventually finds out that Donald Trump won remains to be seen. “Not a big fan of either, but I did have a huge preference of the regime that I was hoping we would avoid,” he told Fox.
That’s A Mighty Wind
Chandler might have been able to guess the outcome of the election if he kept an eye on the weather, especially the wind, on Election Day. A new study that analyzed 100 years of U.S. elections and the recent Brexit and Scotland votes in Britain asserts that higher wind speed makes voters seek safety and the status quo, while low winds encourage voters toward change and greater risk — whether they know it or not.
The research paper found that wind speed affected voting behavior across 100 years of U.S. elections (1912-2012), 10 years of Swiss referendums (2005-2014), and two crucial votes in Britain — the June 2016 “Brexit” decision to leave the European Union and the September 2014 vote in Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Since foul weather lowers voter turnout, the study focused on actual voting decisions.
The key finding: when wind speed increases, voters seek safety, risk aversion, and the status quo — what psychologists call a “prevention-focus.” In contrast, low winds push voters toward greater change and the willingness to take a risk.
“We surprisingly find that weather — specifically, wind — on Election Day affects voting decisions,” the study says. Voters “are influenced not only by the particular stances of political parties, candidates, or campaigns, but also by the environment in which those stances are evaluated and put to a decision.”
The research paper — “Weather Affects Voting Decisions” — was co-authored by Jon Jachimowicz, a PhD student at Columbia Business School; Jochen Menges, University Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour at Cambridge Judge Business School and a Professor of Leadership at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany; and Adam Galinsky, Chair of the Management Division and Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business at Columbia Business School.
The study shows that the effect of wind speed in most cases accounts for no more than 1% of the final vote. It was completed prior to Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton, so it didn’t measure whether low winds may have benefited Trump, the change candidate. But the closeness of the election — a swing of just 110,000 votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin could have won it for Clinton — means that every factor, including wind, is worth watching in the future, the authors say.
To study wind speeds during the two recent UK votes, researchers examined weather data during the day that polling stations were open. The finding: Councils with higher average wind speed on Election Day were more likely to have higher levels of votes to remain in the EU in 2016, and to have Scotland remain in the UK in 2014.
For the 100 years of U.S. presidential elections and 10 years of Swiss referendums, wind speed had no effect in those elections in the U.S. and Switzerland where both voting outcomes reflected safety and security, or when neither option did. But it did relate to election results when a prevention-oriented option was pitted against an option in favor of change.
An additional study focused on people departing from the Staten Island ferry terminal in Manhattan. On a windy day, people were more likely to reject independence for Staten Island in a hypothetical vote – thus choosing the status quo option. In a lab experiment, volunteers were placed in front of electric fans, and those whose fans were turned on were also more likely to vote against Staten Island secession.
These findings challenge the belief that voting decisions are a result of careful deliberation and conscious choice, showing that people’s decisions can be influenced by factors they’re not even aware of, the authors say.
“From a rational choice model of political behavior, voting on a windy or non-windy day should have no effect on election outcomes,” the study says. “The results suggest, however, that in elections that feature a choice between prevention- and promotion-oriented options, wind speed has consequences for the outcome.”
Donald Trump’s election victory, considered surprising by many, showed that pre-election polls can be misleading for a variety of factors. This new study adds another consideration — the wind — to an uncertain mix.
The research paper “Weather Affects Voting Decisions” is available online.