To address the energy crisis, John McCain has been touting an "all of the above" plan that includes drilling as well as alternative energy. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters, most Americans are receptive to this inclusive approach.
Nearly 90 percent of respondents rated the economy as "not so good" or "poor." And, not surprisingly, their biggest economic concern was high gasoline prices. The recent drop at the pump appears to have triggered a significant decline in this figure -- from 50 percent on July 15 to 34 percent in the latest survey. But although only 1 in 10 said the energy crisis or gas prices were the "most important problem facing the country today" (compared to 44 percent for the economy), this is the highest number Quinnipiac has recorded for energy costs in seven years of polling on this question.
Quinnipiac pollsters found that most Americans support nearly every measure that's been put on the table to address the energy crisis. A majority of respondents support domestic drilling, whether it's offshore or in Alaska's national wildlife refuge (62 percent and 51 percent, respectively). On top of that, nearly 60 percent said they favor building new nuclear power plants, and an overwhelming 87 percent support government-funded programs to develop renewable energy. The only proposal that didn't garner majority support was releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve; still, 45 percent supported this measure as well.
The shift in Congress toward supporting some form of domestic drilling -- most notably by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., last week -- appears to have resonated with left-leaning voters. While overwhelming majorities of Republican respondents support drilling both offshore and in ANWR, exactly half of Democrats said they, too, support offshore drilling. By a narrow margin, more Democrats than Republicans support tapping into the oil reserve, echoing Barack Obama's shift in support of this proposal earlier this month.
Pollsters found mixed results when they inquired about which presidential candidate is best equipped to solve the energy crisis. While a plurality of 37 percent chose Obama, McCain trails only narrowly at 32 percent. Three in every 10 respondents, however, said they didn't know or declined to answer. Nonetheless, the Illinois senator continues to garner the most confidence from voters on the economy overall. Almost 40 percent said the economy would improve under an Obama presidency, while a scant 20 percent said the same of McCain.
Most presidential elections boil down to a fierce fight for several key battleground states, and it appears that 2008 will be no different. National Journal asked political insiders which states won by President Bush in 2004 are most likely to flip to the blue column in November, and found remarkable consensus among Democrats and Republicans.
A majority of insiders from both parties agree that Obama has a virtual lock on winning Iowa, as he spent a huge amount of time and resources establishing a strong organization in the Hawkeye State during the primary season while McCain virtually skipped the GOP caucus there. Fifty-one percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Democrats also predict that New Mexico could become Obama country. "Obama's rebound with Hispanic voters, coupled with a massive Democrat registration drive, put him in great position to flip this state," one Republican insider said.
Colorado and Virginia come next on both the Democrats' and Republicans' lists. One Democrat speculated that Colorado will "return the favor" after being selected as the site of this year's Democratic convention. Virginia, meanwhile, has not gone for a Democratic president since 1964, but the Obama campaign has poured huge resources into the commonwealth, and popular local Democrats -- particularly Senate candidate Mark Warner -- could help tip the state. Gov. Tim Kaine, a national co-chair for the Obama campaign, is also rumored to be on the short list of vice presidential picks, and his selection could seal the deal for Obama in the Old Dominion State.
Less certain, but definitely in play, are Nevada and Ohio. A little less than a quarter of Democratic insiders -- and 16 percent of Republican insiders -- see Ohio leaning blue. "The trends in this state amount to a gale-force wind blowing against Republicans," one GOP insider argued. But Hillary Rodham Clinton blew Obama out of the water in the Democratic primary there, and Ohio is home to many blue-collar white voters who still seem hesitant about Obama's candidacy. Nevada, meanwhile, is seeing a "booming new Democratic registration edge," according to one Democrat, as well as demographic changes that favor the Dems.