Will Midterms Move the Needle on Energy Issues

With congressional elections less than a year away, and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline still on indefinite hold, the pressure is on for vulnerable Democrats.

Candidates up for reelection are becoming increasingly aware of the stanch partisanship exhibited in Washington, forcing many to break party lines.

This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid compared Republican maneuvers on Keystone and an energy efficiency bill written by Sens. Shaheen and Portman to a “shell game,” accused the GOP of “screwing around” and dismissed GOP demands for votes on several energy amendments.

Recent polling data on Keystone, however, tells a very different story.

In April, a Rasmussen Report poll returned an overall “in favor” number of 61 percent, with 78 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of independents, and even 42 percent of Democrats backing the project.

If the Keystone delay wasn’t enough to cause heartburn for candidates, within weeks, President Obama is set to unveil unprecedented emissions limits on power plants across the U.S., much to the dismay of many Democratic candidates who are running for election in energy-producing states including Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, Alaska and Montana.

Longtime Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf agrees; “Having this debate now will only injure Democrats. Democrats are in trouble. The best thing when you’re in trouble is to avoid further controversy.”

Energy policies will, undoubtedly, affect the midterm elections, as American dissatisfaction with Congress remains at and all-time high. If candidates wish to win come November, they will turn their attention to the needs of American people; jobs, energy security, and economic provision.

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