Effects of Natural Resources Wealth on Political Participation and Political Outcome

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Pang, Chung Yang
thesis / dissertation description
The emergence of natural resources wealth in the United States has sparked intensive debates between the two political parties, Democratic and Republican, on their stance in support of the industry. As actions, taken by party or candidate in power, have impact on the regulations revolving the management of natural resources in the region, it is hypothesized that the significance of the industry within a county plays a role in influencing the county’s voting behavior in national and local elections. Recent studies have also found respectively that (1) the energy boom and increased drilling activities drive economic growth in local counties and (2) economic conditions influence election outcomes by holding the incumbent responsible for economic performance. The two findings suggest that the wealth and management of natural resources could contribute toward incumbency advantage. In examination of the industry’s influence in shaping voting behavior, the present study showed that oil and gas production in the industry are significant factors in increasing the Republican Party vote share, which aligns with the party’s supportive rhetoric of the industry. In the second part of the study, relationship between the two past findings are tested and it is found that oil and gas production remain as important factors in deciding the incumbent’s vote share in elections. It is also found that natural resources employment strongly contributes towards incumbency advantage.