Ellison's Must Read of the Day

Ellison must read
August 12, 2014

My must read of the day is "Democrats Increasingly Backing Oil and Gas Industry," in the Wall Street Journal:

When House Republicans took up a measure to speed the government's reviews of applications to export natural gas, a move long sought by energy companies, the unexpected happened: The bill won "yes" votes from 47 Democrats. [...]

The energy boom is shaping a new kind of Democrat in national politics, lawmakers who are giving greater support to the oil and gas industry even at the risk of alienating environmental groups, a core of the party's base. The trend comes as oil-and-gas production moves beyond America's traditionally energy-rich states, a development that also is increasing U.S. geopolitical influence abroad. [...]

Some Republicans are skeptical of the Democratic Party's growing support and note many Democrats want more regulations. At the same time, GOP leaders say the phenomenon has moved beyond rhetoric. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), the new House Majority Leader, said in a recent interview he has noticed Democrats being more supportive of the energy boom, "because they see their economy grow by it."

This election cycle, Democrats are walking a tight rope when it comes to energy issues.

They already have a disadvantage when it comes to voter turnout. Republican voters tend to be the type that actually shows up to vote in midterms and right now they are also more enthusiastic than Democratic voters.

It is important for Democrats to appeal to their base; they don’t want to alienate voters that care about environmental issues and they can ramp up enthusiasm by appealing to the environmentalist swath of voters. The problem is that the majority of Americans support more oil and gas development, like offshore drilling and the Keystone XL, and that support has been relatively consistent for years.

When you look at polling on these issues, it shouldn't be surprising that more Democrats are supporting these kinds of issue, albeit it in varying degrees, but politicians will always try to appease their donor base.

It was just a couple months ago that Senate hopeful Allison Lundergan Grimes promised to defend the coal industry at a D.C. fundraiser, only to not publically address it when she got to the event. The anti-coal stance has become so unpopular, and the energy issue so big, that Democrats are even attempting to attack Republicans for being anti-coal.

At a certain point lawmakers (in this case Democrats in energy producing states) have to decide if they want to alienate a large group of voters or a much smaller section of their base and a few big dollar fundraisers.

The majority of the population supports many of the positions advocated for by the oil and gas industry, and it shouldn't be surprising that elected officials are voting in a manner that reflects the desires of their constituents.

The bigger win of this is that politicians may actually be siding with their constituents rather than being bought off by the likes of Tom Steyer.