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Not Getting the Funds

Republicans in the US Congress have long been concerned about how the National Science Foundation operates, and while Indiana University's William Bianco writes at Vox's Mischiefs of Factions blog that those concerns may in part be driven by ideology and a want for smaller government, his analysis suggests it could also be motivated by many NSF programs benefitting Democratic districts.

Using NSF grants data from 1992 through 2018, Bianco calculated the ratio of NSF funding various constituencies received, adjusting for population. According to his analysis, the median Republican senator in the 1990s represented a state that received a high portion of NSF funds relative to its population. While Bianco says that NSF funding patterns haven't changed too much since then, political ones have: the median Republican senator now represents a state that receives about two-thirds the funding that the state a median Democratic senator represents receives.

Bianco adds at the Mischiefs of Factions blog that similar patterns hold at other constituency levels and with other funding agencies. "Insofar as 'all politics is local' for Republican legislators, criticism of federal science funding is a political no-brainer," he writes.