More support for energy reform

MORE SUPPORT FOR ENERGY REFORM…. Eventually, the Senate will shift its attention to the House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), also known as Waxman-Markey. And when it does, the debate will begin with quite a bit of support for the Democratic approach.

With hope for Senate action on the energy bill dimming, advocates are aiming to prod reluctant senators with a new survey taken in swing states showing strong support for the legislation.

In a poll obtained by POLITICO of likely 2010 voters in 16 states, many of them home to targeted senators, 63 percent of those sampled said they supported the energy bill while only 30 percent said they opposed the measure.

Further, 60 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for their senator if he or she supported the bill while just 26 percent said they’d be less inclined to re-elect their senator for backing the “American Clean Energy and Security Act.”

The liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund commissioned the poll, which was taken by veteran Democratic pollster Joel Benenson, who is also President Barack Obama’s pollster.

It was conducted in Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia.

This comes just a week after a Washington Post-ABC News poll found similar results. In that poll, nearly six in 10 support the changes proposed by Democratic policymakers; a majority support a cap-and-trade system; and a plurality believe energy reform will create jobs.

And while these results are no doubt encouraging, I still have to wonder whether these numbers can be sustained. As I joked last week, the coal industry and Fox News are probably going to start telling Americans that energy reform will require child sacrifices and human cannibalism. Soon after, the Council on American Goodness will runs ads saying that President Obama’s energy policies will make it illegal for families to use the bathroom.

That’s (probably) an exaggeration, but the point is, the public’s attitudes are on the right track for now. These polls don’t measure depth of support, however, and we have no idea how many people who currently support progressive energy policies will change their mind after seeing a scary 30-second ad warning of dire consequences.

Right-wing activists and corporate interests have learned how to shake up the policy landscape, and they’re not above making up garbage. I’m glad the numbers on energy look good, but it’s going to take some work to keep the numbers where they are.