It may be too much to hope for but a new Gallup poll claims Americans' priorities are shifting to environmental protection from energy security.
In March, a Gallup poll found Americans favouring the development of US energy supplies over environmental protection by a 50-43% margin. The latest poll shows environmental protection has trumped domestic energy production by 55-39%. What's particularly interesting is that Republican numbers remained unchanged with energy production favoured over environmental protection two to one in March and again in May. The big change came from Democrats who from 58/35% pro-environment to 73/23% pro-environment and independents who went from 51/43% pro-energy in March to to 58/34% pro-environment in May.
With the Republican base stuck on pro-energy and the Democratic base energized on pro-environment along with the independent sector shifting to pro-environment, this could be an enormous opportunity for the Dems in the mid-terms.
The question asked respondents which they favoured, environmental protection even at the risk of limiting US production of oil, gas and coal or development of US energy supplies even if the environment suffers to some extent.
Is "drill baby, drill" dead and gone? Probably not, at least not yet. It is hard to imagine the trend reversing so long as the Deepwater Horizon disaster and its prolonged environmental fallout remain the dominant story on America's airwaves. Once it recedes from the public's consciousness, however, that's anybody's guess. This could be a tipping point or it could just be a bout of indigestion for the fossil fuelers and you can assume that Big Oil and Big Coal are gearing up their publicity/manipulation machines to fight back. With hundreds of billions of dollars potentially at risk and a "bought and paid for" Congress, it's inconceivable they'll go down without a fight.
In any case it's an issue that seems custom made for the 2010 mid-term Congressional elections, one that might just break along party lines. Could this be America's first election fought on environmentalism?