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Keystone Pipeline Poll: Further Delays Hurt Senate Democrats

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Polling conducted for Consumer Energy Alliance examines the role the Keystone XL Pipeline and energy issues could play in five key Senate races.

Voters in Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire and Montana feel the Obama administration is likely playing politics with the recent move to delay a decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Many KXL supporters are pledging to hold incumbent Democrats accountable if the President does not approve the pipeline before Election Day.

Key findings:

  • Thinking about 2016? Keystone XL has majority support in Iowa (60%) and New Hampshire (58%)
  • An impressive 73% of Montana voters support building Keystone XL
  • 50% of Michigan Democrats support building Keystone XL
  • KXL proponents could gain three new supporters by winning Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire
Do you think the recent delay to a final Keystone XL decision is necessary to gather more information on the environmental impact or is the delay mostly about politics?  
Mostly about politics Need more information
Iowa 66% 27%
Kentucky 70% 20%
Michigan 57% 30%
Montana 75% 17%
New Hampshire 66% 23%

 

Would Obama delaying a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline make you more or less likely to vote for a Democrat candidate?
Less Likely More Likely
Iowa 35% 29%
Kentucky 38% 27%
Michigan 31% 23%
Montana 37% 22%
New Hampshire 34% 17%

 

Would President Obama denying the permit to build the Keystone XL Pipeline make you more or less likely to vote for a Democrat Senate Candidate? 
Less Likely* More Likely*
Iowa 49% 22%
Kentucky 51% 23%
Michigan 45% 21%
Montana 52% 19%
New Hampshire 47% 13%
* Among those who support building the pipeline.

 

Importance of energy issues and support for building the Keystone XL Pipeline?
  Energy Issues Important Support Keystone XL
Iowa 77% 60%
Kentucky 67% 66%
Michigan 71% 60%
Montana 79% 73%
New Hampshire 76% 58%

 

Iowa

Iowa voters will chose a new U.S. Senator to replace the retiring Tom Harkin, an opponent of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Iowa voters support building the pipeline, which will pass through neighboring Nebraska, and consider energy issues important. Democrat Bruce Braley has a slight lead, within the poll’s margin of error, over his two potential GOP opponents. Polling finds Braley will lose supporters if President Obama delays (35%) or denies (49%) building the Keystone XL Pipeline.

 

If the election were held today, who would you vote for?

 

Bruce Braley Mark Jacobs
43% 42%
Bruce Braley Joni Ernst
44% 40%

 

Kentucky

Out of the gates GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in a neck and neck horse race with Democrat challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.  The pivotal issue in the race could be who makes a better case to the energy electorate.  Kentucky voters support coal fired power plants to produce electricity (69%) and building the Keystone XL Pipeline (66%). Majorities from both camps, McConnell and Lundergan Grimes, support building the pipeline. 31% of undecided voters strongly support building Keystone XL making energy issues an important topic to discuss with voters between now and Election Day.

Mitch McConnell Alison Lundergan Grimes’
46% 45%

Michigan

Michigan’s U.S. Senator Carl Levin is retiring. Just over one in five Michigan voters (21%) have yet to make a choice between candidates Gary Peters, a Democrat and Terri Lynn Land, a Republican.  Michigan voters narrowly favor Peters in current vote preference.  Alarmingly, voters will reconsider their support for Gary Peters if President Obama further delays or denies of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Keystone XL is not a partisan issue in Michigan. 50% of Democrats support its construction, while 31% oppose it.  Among crucial undecided voters support for KXL is at 48%.

 

Gary Peters Terri Lynn Land
42% 37%

 

Montana

Montana’s long serving U.S. Senator, Max Baucus, left the U.S. Senate in 2013 to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China. Democrat John Walsh was appointed to replace him, and is running to hold the seat against U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, a Republican.  An early read of the race gives Daines a 49% to 37% lead.  The Keystone XL Pipeline will cross through Montana where it is supported by an impressive 73% of Montana voters including 48% of current Walsh supporters.  Any further inaction or an outright denial of KXL by President Obama will damage Walsh’s chances of keeping Montana’s senate seat in control of the Democrats; 52% of KXL supporters are less likely to support John Walsh if the president denies Keystone XL.

Steve Daines John Walsh
49% 37%

 

New Hampshire 

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen has served in elected office in New Hampshire as Governor for six years and as its senior U.S. Senator for a term.  Shaheen opposes building Keystone XL.  She is likely to face Republican Scott Brown, who recently moved to New Hampshire after serving as state senator and U.S. Senator in Massachusetts.  Stalling or denying on Keystone XL hurts Shaheen; 47% of New Hampshire voters who support Keystone XL will reconsider voting for the incumbent if the president denies Keystone XL.  Independents make or break a candidate in New Hampshire.  Among this key group, 59% support building KXL while 26% oppose it.

Jeanne Shaheen Scott Brown
49% 43%

 

Conclusion

The second round of Consumer Energy Alliance polling in key U.S. Senate races reaffirms research conducted earlier this year in Senate races in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, and North Carolina: voters will reconsider their support for Democrats if the President further delays or denies the Keystone XL pipeline.  Construction of Keystone XL and energy issues in general receive high marks from voters and voters are making a direct connection between vote support and the Keystone XL policy positions of U.S. Senate candidates.

2014 races in Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire offer supporters the opportunity to increase the margin of support in the U.S. Senate for building Keystone XL by three critical votes.  This scenario leaves the President in political bind.  Further delays hurt his party’s chances of maintaining control of the U.S. Senate.  In addition, the next Congress could force his hand with its overwhelming support by passing legislation issuing the necessary cross-border permits.  If the president acts now on Keystone XL, he could help his party maintain a chamber of Congress and could avoid a future squabble with the legislative branch.

 

Methodology

Hickman Analytics conducted the four polls for Consumer Energy Alliance. In Iowa, 500 likely 2014 general election voters were surveyed via landline or cell phone between April 24th and 30th. In Michigan, 502 likely 2014 general election voters were surveyed via landline or cell phone between April 24th and 30th.  In Montana, 400 likely 2014 general election voters were surveyed via landline or cell phone between April 24th and 30th.  In New Hampshire, 400 likely 2014 general election voters were surveyed via landline or cell phone between April 24th and 30th.  Montana and New Hampshire polling carries a 4.9% margin of error.  Iowa and Michigan polling carries a 4.4% margin of error.

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