Snow -- What Is It Good For?

It's well-known that weathermen -- particularly New England weathermen -- are the only group of pundits who get away with being wrong more consistently than political pundits.

Ten days ago they said election Tuesday would be sunny and calm. Pfft. Now they're saying things like "wintry mix" -- which itself seems like a wishy-washy prediction that really means: "Something's gonna happen, but hell if I know what."

This is good news for the top Brown and Coakley campaign personnel, because if they lose they can now blame it on the weather screwing up turnout. (It's not so good for the rank-and-file members of the campaign teams, who will be standing outside of polling places all day in a wintry mix.)

But who does the snow really help and hurt? How should I know -- ten days ago I was confidently predicting Coakley would win by double-digits, on a calm sunny day.

Here are a few different ways of interpreting the snow's effect:

--The Democratic base is bigger than the Republican base, so higher turnout means the bases are coming out, which helps Coakley; thus the snow is good for Brown.

--This is no longer a 'base turnout' election; this is a high-turnout election, in which the non-ideological middle is coming out to vote, and they're grumpy as hell about the national and state incumbent Democrats. The snow will keep that type of voter away, turning it back into a base-turnout election; thus the snow is good for Coakley.

--The grumpiest of those non-base voters are far more highly motivated than the Democratic-leaning ones, so the snow will keep home the latter more than the former; thus, the snow is good for Brown.

--In tougher turnout conditions, the get-out-the-vote machinery makes a bigger difference, and it's the Democratic machinery in most parts of the state that has the capability to find their voters and physically get them to the polls; thus, the snow is good for Coakley.

--The southeastern part of the state looks like it may get mostly rain, and that may well be one of Brown's best strongholds, whereas the major urban areas west and north of 128 where Coakley figures to do well should be all snow; thus, the snow is good for Brown.

--The key to the whole election may be the turnout in liberal Boston/Cambridge realtive to the rest of the state, and as of now it looks likely that the immediate metro area may get more rain than snow tomorrow; also, it's generally easier for urbanites to get to their polling places in bad weather than for non-urbanites. Thus, the snow is good for Coakley.

--Iocane powder comes from Australia, and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.

With the possible exception of that last argument, these are all potentially legitimate interpretations -- or at least, viable-sounding excuses.

So what am I predicting for Tuesday, as a professional political pundit?

Wintry mix.

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