ANWR As A Potent Issue Next Year
You know things are going bad for Bush when his motives for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) are trashed by 68% of those polled. According to a Zogby poll released yesterday for the Wilderness Society,
As Congress prepares to consider legislation opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling, a majority of likely voters (53%) remain opposed to the proposal, and fewer than two in five (39%) think that Congress should open the area for oil drilling.
A majority in every region of the country says that Congress should not open up the Arctic Refuge for oil drilling. The strongest opposition to drilling in the Refuge comes from Democrats (65%), Independents (68%), and from Union households (62%).
Note to Dems: Don’t you think this a powerful campaign issue to your base and swing voters? But here is the killer for Bush and the GOP:
More than two out of three likely voters see the proposal as a payback for oil industry campaign contributions. By a 68% – 27% margin, they agree that the Bush Administration and Congress are spending too much time trying to open the Arctic Refuge instead of focusing their attention on more important issues.
Even among Republicans (39%) and self-described conservatives (44%), nearly two in five voters agree that the Bush Administration and Congress should be focusing on more important issues than trying to open the Refuge for oil drilling.
Yeow! And so much for Bush’s credibility and claims on the subject:
More than 3 in 5 voters say it is not too believable (18%) or not believable at all (43%) when President Bush asserts that drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife will not harm the Refuge or the wildlife that live there. A majority in all regions of the country and across all ages and income levels says the statement is not believable, with more than three out of four Independent voters (78%) saying it is not believable.
Even after hearing arguments for and against opening the Arctic Refuge for oil drilling, a solid majority remains opposed to doing so. Nearly three in five respondents (57%) side with Statement B – that drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will do little or nothing to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Just one in three (32%) agree with Statement A – drilling in the Refuge is a key part of a national energy strategy that will reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.
Those who side with Statement B represent a majority in every region of the country, with the strongest support coming from Independent voters (73%).
If the party wants to reclaim Independent and other swing voters next year, focusing on the environment is one way to do this. But this poll also points out another meal ticket for the Dems. Look at how many of those polled drew a direct linkage between Bush's policy priorities and his payback to campaign contributors, when they were asked the direct question by the pollsters.
This line of attack by Dems represents an untapped gold mine that none of the candidates have exploited yet. There is a great deal of mileage in hammering Bush and Cheney for being wholly-owned subsidiaries of the oil companies, and making this point over and over again in the face of rising gas prices is toxic for the GOP next year.
Paging Mr. Kerry, paging Mr. Dean, even paging you Holy Joe: film the commercials. Let's go!