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Polls Show Opposition to Keystone XL is Elitist Democrat Viewpoint, Awful Election Strategy

Opposition to Keystone XL is coming from a disproportionately affluent, college educated demographic

Opposition to Keystone XL is coming from a disproportionately affluent, college educated demographic

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An article from The Daily Beast writer Lloyd Green argues that “Downton Abbey Democrats may cost the party the Senate,” noting that while the environmentalist elite oppose Keystone XL, the project has a broad approval rating that crosses party lines.  

It is difficult to gauge whether the ire of environmentalists amounts to much anymore, with their incessant gloom and doom appearing to be a one-size-fits-all messaging approach. Nonetheless, they’ve spurred major donations for the politicians willing to fight Keystone’s development. The American public seems more interested in the jobs it would create, however, and more akin to believing the positive economic impact it would bring.  Running based on opposition to Keystone XL is a dangerous Democratic senatorial campaign approach that could lead to difficulties with a middle class that feels increasingly abandoned by the Democratic party.  

The latest polls on the matter show that support is based much more on socio-economic factors than partisan ideals:  

… the Pew Research Center reported that the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline project was not a routine party-line battle between Democrats and Republicans, but a high-profile scrum pitting the Democrats’ donor class against the rest of America. According to Pew, the public actually favors Keystone by better than two-to-one, with opposition concentrated among graduate degree holding Democrats, and Democrats with household incomes north of $100,000. In contrast to high-end Democrats, working class Democrats support Keystone—regardless of race.

For Democrats, the problem lies in the fact that they have not produced the green energy industry jobs promised as an alternative by President Obama in 2008.  His tenure in the Oval Office has done little to quell the tide of income equality and since anti-Keystone XL sentiment is reserved for the Democratic elite, it is unlikely the topic will be able to fit into any game-changing discussion of economic progress.

As Lloyd Green explains, the party is coming closer and closer to resembling “Downton Abbey” while the middle class is feeling increasingly alienated:

Think aesthetics as politics, and academic credentials as peerage. Think of a latter-day Americanized version of Downton Abbey—where everyone knows his or her place, and our betters look best. Oh, also thrown in a dollop of NIMBY, or Not in My Backyard, and take the late President Kennedy’s nephew Robert Jr. as exemplifying gentry liberalism’s inner impulse.

Kennedy Jr., self-declared vaccination opponent and environmental champion, trumpeted his support for wind farms—but just not near fashionable Cape Cod. Lauding himself for endeavoring to place “wind farms in appropriate landscapes,” Kennedy declared that he would not build a wind farm on Nantucket Sound. Kennedy conveniently omitted the fact, however, that his family’s compound is located in Hyannis Port, on Nantucket Sound itself, but let the world know that he was “an environmental lawyer and professor at Pace University Law School.” Can you say to the manor born?

On Sunday, Nate Silver’s unveiled its latest statistics showing the GOP favorited to gain control the Senate.  A deeper look into the numbers reveals that Democrats are most likely to lose seats in three states where energy is a major issue: West Virginia, South Dakota, and Montana.  Continuing a party-wide push against Keystone XL, one that is not representative of constituent preference, will only add to the party’s problems.


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