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Will Obama Fold on Keystone Pipeline?

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

Will a major midterm election year sway President Barack Obama on the Keystone XL pipeline? If 11 Senate Democrats have their way, the president will approve the project in the next couple of months. There is no need to go back and re-read that. The latest pressure to move forward with Keystone is not coming from Republicans, but Democrats -- 6 of whom are facing re-election in 2014.

Many political analysts say the Republican Party has a good chance of taking control of the U.S. Senate after the 2014 elections are all said and done. One of the biggest issues that hurt Democrats in the beginning of the year was the Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as Obamacare). However, as the administration continues to report successes with the ACA, Republicans may not be able to rely on it as much during the general election campaign season.

Still, President Obama's average approval rating is around

43 percent and Congress' approval rating is a bad joke. The national perception of the president can often impact politicians of the same party. Just ask Republicans if they think President Bush's low approval ratings in 2006 contributed to the party losing control of Congress. I guarantee most, if they were honest, will say yes.

There is no clear indication what impact, if any, the Keystone pipeline will have on the 2014 elections.

A Gallup poll released on April 10, 2013 (one year ago today) said most Americans -- 59 percent -- believe the country should focus on the production of alternative energy sources as opposed to a continued emphasis on oil, gas, and coal to solve the nation's energy problems. A Rasmussen poll from January 2014, however, said 57 percent of Americans support building the Keystone XL pipeline, a number that has remained mostly steady over the last couple of years.

Nearly a dozen Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday, urging him to approve the project:

“The time to act is now Mr. President, please use your executive authority to expedite this process to a swift conclusion and a final decision so that we can all move forward on other energy infrastructure needs in this country. We ask that you bring this entire process to an end no later than May 31, 2014, and that your final decision be the right one, finding that the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest.”

Sens. Mary Landrieu, Heidi Heitkamp, Mark Begich, Joe Donnelly, Kay Hagan, Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill, Mark Pryor, Jon Tester, John Walsh, and Mark Warner signed the letter. Landrieu, Begich, Hagan, Pryor, Walsh, and Warner are the 6 who must defend their incumbency in 2014.

Photo Credit: Congressman J. Randy Forbes website

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