Is the Denver Post’s Mike Riley Psychic?

You’d think so given the conclusions he made about the newly-released Quinnipiac University poll of the United States Senate race in Colorado.

The debate over energy is probably responsible for the race’s quickly shifting terrain. Schaffer has made it his No. 1 theme, battering Udall in their first debate and in the two weeks since for resisting more drilling in Alaska and off America’s coasts.

How did he come to this conclusion?

With the price of gasoline their highest-ranked financial worry, a majority of Colorado voters now support drilling in both areas, according to Thursday’s poll, which had a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points.

There’s a problem here: Quinnipiac didn’t ask any drilling-related questions in the previous poll. In the previous poll, voters also rated gas prices as their most important economic concern.

According to Floyd Ciruli, “We have seen that the majority of the public is now in favor of offshore drilling, drilling in (the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge), and by a small margin in favor of nuclear. There has just been huge movement, and it’s shifted the Democrats to being on the defensive.”

But there’s no evidence of any “huge movement” between this poll and the last poll, because they didn’t ask about drilling in the last poll. The Rasmussen poll Riley also mentions only covers favorability and likely vote; it has no issues in it at all.

He also fails to mention the third poll that shows Udall with a healthy 9-point lead, casting serious doubt on the statement that “the past two weeks also seem to have left the Democrats’ carefully crafted campaign strategy in tatters.”

Riley pays a tiny bit of lip service to the fact that people are actually on Mark Udall’s side when it comes to solutions, so clearly he gets it. So why did he write the article?

According to the poll, 86% of the electorate thinks the government should be funding renewable energy development, and 6% used to oppose it but now support it. That says to me that the electorate is seeing movement toward Mark Udall’s position, not away from it.

Likewise, 72% of the electorate supports higher mileage standards for cars (including 5% who used to oppose it but now support it), something Bob Schaffer has historically opposed.

All that’s just the icing. Here’s the cake:

Which is the best way to help solve the energy crisis and make America less dependent on foreign oil – A) building new nuclear power plants, B) drilling offshore and in Alaska, C) developing renewable energy sources like solar power, wind power and biofuels, D) releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve or E) mandating higher mileage standards for cars?

A) Nuclear power: 9%

B) Drilling: 21%

C) Renewable energy: 54%

D) Strategic Reserve: 4%

E) High mileage cars: 5%

More than twice as many people support renewable energy development over drilling as a solution to the energy crisis. There are dozens of other nuggets in the poll that refute the idea that people think drilling is the answer. Read it for yourself, and tell Mike Riley to leave the commentary for the opinion pages.

6 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. RedGreen says:

    No, but Q did ask in this poll whether respondents who support drilling have changed their minds about drilling, both offshore and in ANWAR, and got these results:

    [17] To help solve the energy crisis and make America less dependent on foreign oil, do you support or oppose – Drilling for new oil supplies in currently protected areas off shore? [If support] Previously, did you oppose drilling for new oil supplies in currently protected areas off shore?

    Always support        50%

    Support now              9    

    Oppose                     37    

    DK/NA                        4

    [18] To help solve the energy crisis and make America less dependent on foreign oil, do you support or oppose – Drilling for new oil in the Alaskan national wildlife refuge? [If support] Previously, did you oppose drilling for new oil in the Alaskan national wildlife refuge?

    Always support        44%    

    Support now              8      

    Oppose                     44    

    DK/NA                         4      

    Those are the results for Colorado. The other three states’ results were within a point or two.

    The point is, Republicans have been hammering the “drill now, lower prices” message for weeks and it could be sinking in. Voters pick renewables as their favored response, as you point out above, but haven’t decided that precludes other responses, including drilling in protected areas (with support around 50 percent and growing).

    Of course, Republicans are cynically trying to use high gas prices to reward their friends in the oil industry and break long-standing opposition to offshore and ANWAR drilling. But voters who grasp that, and deplore it, are already strongly opposed to drilling in protected areas.

    If Democrats hit back with a coherent — and simple — message that doesn’t leave consumers feeling stranded, that doesn’t reinforce the Republican message that Democrats somehow want higher gas prices, then  voters will embrace it. As the numbers you cited demonstrate, voters are predisposed toward Democratic solutions. But right now, Republicans are the ones with a clear message about lowering gas prices, even if it’s not supported by the facts. That the GOP message might sway one in 10 voters shouldn’t come as a surprise.

    Riley and Ciruli aren’t pulling their analysis out of thin air (or waves of psychic energy). They just read the questions where respondents said they’d changed their mind about drilling. Democrats dismiss that shift at their peril.

    • ThillyWabbit says:

      Oil orices have dropped $25.bbl and gas prices are on the decline thanks to the small bits of legislation Democrats have been able to pass in the face of unprecedented Republican obstructionsism.

      Democrats are fighting the Wall Street fat cats and Big Oil executives to bring relief to working families, while the Republicans have voted en masse to block legislation that would bring immediate help–cracking down on oil speculators, price fixing, increasing supply, reducing demand, mandating more fuel efficient cars, cutting tariffs on plentiful ethanol imports from Brazil, expanding drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and off the southern coast of Florida, and–most importantly–development of renewable fuels that are the only solution in the long term and will create thousands of new American jobs to boot.

      • RedGreen says:

        Those are all valid points, and Democrats are winning the energy price war on the opinion page, but only something like 5 percent of voters read the opinion page.

        You’ve seen the McCain ad about Obama being responsible for high gas prices? No substance, just a scary fuel pump and crowds chanting “Obama Obama.” Democrats need to do the same ad and get off the defensive. Republicans shouldn’t get a free ride on the simplistic slogans, because, you’re right, voters know why we have high gas prices, they just need to be reminded. 30 seconds at a time, over and over.

      • Danny the Red (hair) says:

        RG is also right that D’s have to get back in there with pushback.

        Right now Pickens is doing the heavy lifting for us.  WEIRD

  2. RedGreen says:

    This has been airing for two weeks in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

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