PS: Political Science & Politics


Sweating the Vote: Heat and Abstention in the US House of Representatives

Alexander Cohena1

a1 Ashford University


Several recent studies noted systematic links between weather conditions and voting turnout amid the mass public. This article extends this logic to the elite level by exploring the relationship between summer heat and abstentions in the US House of Representatives. In controlled multivariate regressions, heat is a significant predictor of abstentions across all votes held between 1991 and 2000. This finding provides new insight into legislative behavior as well as the motivation behind some abstentions, which could inform the understanding of the literature on legislative shirking.

Alexander Cohen is an assistant professor of social and political science at Ashford University, Clinton, IA. He can be reached at

The author would like to thank the support of several individuals, without whom this paper would never had evolved into an article: John Alden, Fred Boehmke, Scott Cody, Michael Lewis-Beck, Douglas Madsen, Tom Rice, and Heath Spong. As always, the author offers a special thanks to Douglas Dion for his years of support.