The boom in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has made voters more conservative, according to a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
"Support for conservative interests rises and Republican political candidates gain votes after [fracking] booms, leading to a near doubling in the probability of a change in incumbency," researchers write. "All of this change occurs at the expense of Democrats."
Researchers made their case by comparing fracking boom parts of the country with non-boom areas. "Shale drilling started in 2003, and by 2012 over 80 percent of House seats were filled by Republicans in boom areas, up from less than 50 percent in 1996. In non-shale districts from the same states, however, there is no trend: Republicans hold about half of the seats across the whole period." Researchers estimate that fracking has caused 17 congressional seats to switch from Democrats to Republicans.
Even though fracking is mostly related to energy policy, the political change has affected many non-energy issues as well.