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July 15, 2008

IBD Poll: 73% Say Fuel Prices More Pressing Concern; Only 23% Say Global Warming

Even drilling in ANWR now commands a thin plurality, 47 in favor, 43 opposed.

Will Republicans exploit this? Yes, of course. They're not doing it as quickly as we might hope, but they're politicians, so they are of course slow to champion principle over polls. But as the polls shift more and more to the correct principle, suddenly they'll find the backbone to really push for drilling, and punish the Democrats for opposing it.

It's possible this is an election game-changer. The Republicans have been blamed for the weakening economy, despite the fact that until Democrats took control it wasn't weakening at all, and only began to falter on their watch. It is very difficult to change the public's attitude on an issue, especially when they haven't bothered to think about it all that much. After all, someone who has thought about it a lot is open to further thinking about it, and his mind could be changed. Someone who merely feels economic malaise and feels Republicans are in some way responsible is less amenable to persuasion -- as they say, you can't reason someone out of a position they haven't been reasoned into.

But the oil issue can, and I think will, cut through this to a fair degree. People are being forced to actually think about the economy, and not merely "feel" it, and think about making hard choices about their own personal fortune and the hardcore preservationist/Agent Smith theory of "environmentalism" now all the range. Previously they could support both lower oil prices and a ban on US exploration, simply feeling in their minds that people in government should figure out a way that we can have our environmental cake and eat our oil too. But the reality of $4.50 gas is forcing a confrontation with this unconsidered "I want it both ways" impulse.

And, more and more, thinking and deciding and weighing and making hard choices is leading to the public adopting a better, and much more GOP-friendly, policy position.

There was previously no way to disturb the unconsidered feeling that Republicans were somehow to blame for a weakening economy. Now there's a potent counter-narrative that's on everyone's minds. And this one has the virtue of actually being true.

If that counts for anything.

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posted by Ace at 01:58 PM

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