The Urban-Rural Battleground
Environmental design and planning are becoming increasingly polarized along partisan lines in the United States. Landscape architects are increasingly engaging in systemic large-scale climate change issues beyond the single client development model — e.g., renewable energy and hazard planning — that cross multiple political divides. Yet, initiatives are slow to materialize because embattled fractures prevent the passage of legislation, such as the Green New Deal, that would realign the country with global efforts to adapt to climate change.
Political sentiment typically follows urban-rural spatial patterns, suggesting that the biophysical environment has an influential role in socio-political values and behavior. Efforts to explain political activity have often relied on estimating individual behaviors from aggregate data or ecological inference. Yet, to our knowledge, these efforts have been limited to social variables and have espoused the role of the biophysical environment.
Pennsylvania, a key battleground state in the 2020 Presidential Election, appears to follow these alignments as the traditionally rural counties of Appalachia are generally more conservative despite a higher reliance on natural resource industries. Our exploratory geospatial analysis of Pennsylvania attempts to describe voting patterns through the ecological inference of biophysical and social factors. We aggregate a representative range of biophysical conditions — including land use, forest quality, farmland quality, conservation lands, the Rural-Urban Continuum Codes index, and traditional demographic characteristics — at the voting precinct level for the entire state (n = 9,275) and explore correlations with the 2018 Midterm Election results across state and local elections.
|The Urban-Rural Battleground
|Statewide socio-ecological system drivers of voting in PA
|CC BY-NC 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial)
|September 23, 2021
|February 23, 2022