Who Really Cares About Keystone?


After looking at a new poll, Aaron Blake concludes that “support for Keystone is softer – and less urgent – than previously thought”:

 The survey asks people whether they think the pipeline should be authorized now, or whether they think a review should be completed to determine that the project is in the nation’s interest. Just 34 percent of Americans say, ‘Build it now.’ An additional 61 percent are happy to allow the review process to play out. Even among Republicans, 43 percent want the review to run its course. Just more than half – 53 percent – insist it’s time to move forward.

David Roberts is unsurprised by these numbers. He argues that “that vast swathe of people who have busy lives and no time or particular incentive to study up on matters of policy, will generally gravitate to things that sound good“:

How many Americans know what kind of oil the Keystone pipeline will carry, who will build it or profit from it, where it will carry the oil, what the economic or environmental effects will be? I’d wager on the order of 2 percent, optimistically. Never mind long and hard — I doubt most Americans have thought about Keystone at all. Here’s a telling contrast. Most polls show that a roughly 60 percent majority of Americans favor building Keystone. But in the Hart poll, they asked an open-ended question: “What would you most like the president and Congress to do related to this issue?” When “this issue” was energy, just 7 percent offered up Keystone voluntarily. It is engaged partisans, and engaged partisans only, for whom this is a salient issue.