Voters could hand Republicans a Senate majority if Obama rejects Keystone XL

As Democrats struggle to come up with a coherent message on the proposed Keystone XL, voters in five states with potentially competitive Senate race are signaling that President Barack Obama’s decision on the oil pipeline could loom large when they head to the polls this fall.

Vulnerable “Red State” Senate Democrats have been pressuring Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and other leaders to hold a vote on Keystone XL, though the measure could be a pointless, nonbinding statement of support from the chamber. Republicans, however, want the measure brought up as an amendment to the Shaheen-Portman energy bill, a nonstarter for Democratic leadership.

Democrats are in one helluva pickle on Keystone XL. On one hand they have their radical environmentalist base and big money donors like Tom Steyer. On the other, they have vulnerable members running for reelection in states in which there is support for the oil pipeline.

But utterly meaningless on statements of support in the Senate or even a binding resolution may not be enough for Democrats running in competitive Senate races. New polling, conducted by Hickman Analytics for Consumer Energy Alliance, finds that Democrats could face problems if President Obama rejects Keystone XL.

The poll found that there is strong support for Keystone XL in the five states surveyed  — Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and New Hampshire — and that voters believe that the recent to the final decision on the oil pipeline was about politics.

Voters who support Keystone XL in each of the five states say that they are much less likely to vote for a Democrat in Senate races this fall if President Obama rejects the pipeline. Four of these states — Iowa, Michigan, Montana, and New Hampshire — are currently represented by a Democrat, meaning that the decision may have serious political implications.

Hickman Analytics and Consumer Energy Alliance conducted a similar poll in March in five other states — Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, and North Carolina — had results that largely fell along the same lines. That’s a big problem for Senate Democrats whose control of the chamber looks increasingly at risk of a Republican takeover.

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