Voter Preferences and Political Change: Evidence from Shale Booms
Local interests change sharply after the energy booms that began in 2003, when hydraulic fracturing spurred extraction of formerly uneconomic oil and gas reserves. Support for conservative interests rises and Republican political candidates gain votes after booms, leading to a near doubling in the probability of a change in incumbency. All of this change occurs at the expense of Democrats. Voting records of U.S. House members from boom districts become sharply more conservative across a wide range of issues, including issues unrelated to energy policy. At the level of the individual, marginal candidates skew their voting behavior somewhat toward more conservative causes, but generally not enough to maintain power. Thus, even when the stakes are high and politicians risk losing power, ideology trumps ambition.
The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.