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Where is the Geology Voter?

County-level election results for the 2016 Presidential race.

No Overlap: Examining Geoscience Map Patterns and Voter Preference

For most Americans, the local geology has little influence on their day-to-day lives. This fact became apparent to me when I compared election results for the 2016 Presidential election to maps of the various aspects of the physical environment - things like geology, soils, power generation, hazards, noise, and resource potential among others. While my "analysis" is admittedly casual, it illustrates this finding: the things geologists, hydrologists, soil scientists, public safety planners, and energy exploration companies consider important enough to put on maps appear to have little influence on voter preference. This low spatial correlation clearly makes geoscience maps poor predictors of future voting trends, but so what. That's not their purpose. Work in the physical sciences is largely out of phase with the ups and downs of politics. However, this simple comparison generated a few more difficult questions concerning our media-saturated world where competition for STEM funding and limelight-avoiding tendencies of many in the geosciences may be at odds. Questions like:

Do people want what geoscientists produce?

Who is the ultimate audience for geological information?

What might the next generation of map products look like?

Are the best STEM students choosing the Geosciences as their major course of study?

Is there such a thing as a citizen's "geological best interest"?

Bedrock geology of North & Central America.

Landslide hazard potential.

Organic content of soils.

Energy production color coded by type.

Large aquifers.

Areas where population is essentially zero.

All rivers and streams.

Mine employment.

Hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas wells.

Oil and natural gas pipelines.

Hydrocarbon production (oil = green, gas = red).

Large oil and gas fields.

Ambient sound.

Tornado occurrence since 1950.

Nuclear power production plants locations.

Limestone areas (potential karst sinkhole hazard).

Earthquake hazard zones.

Soil moisture categories.

Hydrocarbon production areas (oil and gas basins).

Natural disaster types and regions typically affected by each.

Wind power generation potential.

Dominant soil types (soil order).

Lead levels in surface soils.

Here's a map that does a great job of predicting voter preference. Dots vote D.

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