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The politics of energy policy


Some explanation for my off the cuff remark about energy policy. Here’s why I’m not sold on focusing on energy policy as a centerpiece of the electoral strategy. I think it’ll penetrate the minds of voters in roughly this manner:

Obama/Democratic message: renewables, efficiency, multiple sources, green collar jobs, blah blah blah

McCain/Republican message: renewables, efficiency, multiple sources, green collar jobs, blah blah blah, and DRILL NOW

The drill now position seems to play reasonably well. When the Granholm-lead “roundtable” started getting into detail about the awesomeness of Obama’s plan, my eyes started to glaze over and I’m actually interested in energy policy. McCain has been very good at mimicking the details of the Obama message, and I think hope of achieving any meaningful differentiation (aside from the drill now element) is probably misplaced.

It seems to me the best way to neutralize the advantage added by the “drill now” component is to focus on the attack portion of energy policy discussions: attack McCain for policies that enrich oil companies at our expense. This is believable, but I think it’s better done in the context of attacking McCain on his general propensity to support policies that enrich the already very rich. (I’d really love to see this and this getting more play). Energy policy isn’t the capacity to give this particular line of attack it’s larger context.

Also, just in general, it seems wiser to me to try and shift public attention to the many issues in which Obama and Democrats have a natural advantage, rather than try to neutralize the one issue that currently helps McCain, unless you have evidence (which, I suppose, they might, but I’m not aware of it) that this issue is likely to be decisive for a large number of voters.

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