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Obama's Energy Edge, GOP Chasing Unicorns

Nebraskans know the Congressional Republicans are trying to use the KXL pipeline against President Obama. Nebraskans know better and know the President did the right thing by denying the Keystone XL pipeline.

Using false arguments about jobs and energy security, Congressional Republicans think they can take Obama down a notch or cost him the whole election. However, a new poll shows the GOP’s failed strategy.

The poll shows that President Obama has the edge on energy and jobs in Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Colorado–all key battleground states. Voters in these states trust Obama over Congressional Republicans on domestic energy issues 45% to 38%. The President also holds the lead on jobs, 44% to 39%.

What’s even more amazing is that the important arguments that moved voters are the ones Nebraskans have been making all along: that a toxic spill over (and in) the Ogallala Aquifer is too risky.

And just like we saw on the ground in Nebraska, the more folks learn about KXL, the less they like. TransCanada’s poor safety record and the fact that Keystone XL is an export pipeline compounds opposition to the project.

The news around the poll comes out as House Republicans prepare to unveil a Keystone XL Senate companion bill sometime this week that would force approval of the denied permit.

Perhaps up next, Congressional Republicans will start regulating unicorns. Since neither unicorns nor the pipeline exist, why not?

Politico Pro Story:

Obama has energy edge, Democratic poll says

By Darren Goode

2/6/12 5:35 AM EST

President Barack Obama has the edge in the energy and jobs debate in some battleground states over congressional Republicans despite mixed reviews about his denial of the Keystone XL pipeline, according to a new Democratic poll.

The survey of voters in Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Colorado gives another window into Democratic talking points on energy issues.

When it comes to addressing domestic energy, 48 percent trust Obama versus 38 percent for congressional Republicans, according to the survey commissioned by environmental groups and conducted by Democratic pollster and strategist Geoffrey Garin. Obama also beats Republicans 44 percent to 39 percent on promoting jobs.

The survey also notes rather mixed results for Obama regarding his denial last month of Keystone XL — while seeking to underscore that the president’s numbers improve the more voters know of the arguments being made on both sides.

Only 32 percent of voters who had not yet heard the arguments in the Keystone debate said Obama made the right decision in rejecting the pipeline versus 43 percent who said he made the wrong decision. A quarter of those voters had no opinion or were undecided.

“The main reasons for this plurality is that Republican voters are much more likely than either Democrats or independents to take sides on the issue,” argued a memo Garin and Allan Rivlin sent to Senate Democratic chiefs of staff Friday morning. Garin and Rivlin are senior officials at Hart Research Associates.

Among independents, 39 percent said Obama made the wrong decision and 34 percent said he made the right move, according to the survey.

Obama wins the debate among those voters contacted who said they had heard pro and con arguments about the pipeline — with 47 percent concluding Obama was right and 36 percent saying he was wrong. Of those voters, the issue starkly split among partisan lines. For Democrats, 79 percent to 9 percent thought Obama made the right call, while Republicans, 69 percent to 13 percent, said it was the wrong move. Independents backed Obama’s decision 48 percent to 33 percent.

Seven out of 9 voters said they have heard or read about the controversy, according to the survey.

The best way to get voters to back Obama’s decision: “Involve the risk of a toxic oil spill over an aquifer that provides fresh water and water for farming to one-third of the United States — a concern that is compounded by questions about TransCanada’s safety record and the number of spills that have occurred in the first year of the Keystone One pipeline,” according to the memo.

“Under these circumstances, there is broad concurrence that the president should not give the project a go ahead until he is satisfied that the project will not be dangerous or lead to an environmental and economic disaster.”

Environmental groups critical of the project have for months routinely highlighted the 14 relatively small spills that have occurred from the existing Keystone pipeline since it began operating in June 2010 to argue against the proposed 1,700-mile expansion from Alberta oil sands to Texas refineries.

Garin and Rivlin also argue that there is a “sharp decline in the salience of the proponents’ case” for the pipeline regarding how it impacts U.S. energy security “as voters learn the likelihood of the refined oil being shipped off for export.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman are two prominent Democratic opponents of the pipeline that have recently used the export argument. A group of House Democrats last Friday introduced a bill barring any Keystone XL oil from being exported from the U.S.

The memo also argues there is “significant mistrust of both the oil industry and the Republicans in Congress,” and their arguments for the pipeline are undermined when voters are informed that the claims of jobs tied to the project “are grossly exaggerated.”

The new findings are in stark contrast to a late December poll by GOP pollster David Winston that said congressional Republicans and pipeline supporters have successfully put the issue on the map. According to Winston’s poll, 78 percent of Americans believe the pipeline would create a “significant amount of jobs.”

TransCanada and Republicans say the pipeline would create 20,000 jobs — 13,000 in construction and 7,000 in manufacturing. But the State Department said it would create ” approximately 5,000 to 6,000 direct construction jobs” and downplayed any major long-term employment boost.

The Garin survey was conducted by telephone from Jan. 26-29 and involved 200 interviews each in Ohio, Michigan and Iowa and 400 interviews in Colorado.

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