Taking Coal to the Polls?: A Critical Analysis of Presidential Election Results in Appalachia, 1960 - 2016

The objective of this study is to establish a historical framework that illustrates voting patterns in Appalachia and how they correlate with a politicians agenda in a given election year. The study begins in 1960 and ends in 2016, and wrestles with the idea of Appalachia once being a "democratic stronghold,” as voting patterns and political alliances within the region have varied over time throughout American history. This study looks very closely at environmentalism within the United States and correlates voting patterns in the Appalachian region with politicians stances on environmental issues that impact Appalachian lives, such as coal, climate change, and sustainability measures. This study explores the question of whether or not Appalachia votes largely based on the environmental principles from a given politician, or if there are a broader range of issues that impact voters political decisions. A historical timeline will be formed that pinpoints campaigning activity of politicians in Appalachia, and highlights their rhetoric used in discussing their political agendas, especially regarding environmental issues. The framework established in this study will provide a comprehensive overview of how Appalachian voting patterns coincide with a politicians agenda, to help better understand the needs of the Appalachian people, and how the environmentalism movement has potentially failed to captivate Appalachian voters.