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Poll: Keystone XL pipeline looms large in Colorado Senate race

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall may have more to worry about during his re-election campaign than his support of Obamacare.

A plurality of his supporters want to see the Keystone XL pipeline built, a move Udall opposes, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted in mid-February by Democratic polling firm Hickman Analytics found that 43 percent of Udall’s supporters are behind the project to build an oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, with 39 percent opposed.

Overall, 66 percent of those surveyed support the pipeline, with 23 percent opposed.

On energy issues in general, Coloradans surveyed overwhelmingly said they would be important in the 2014 election, by 84-15 percent.

The firm polled voters in several key states, including Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

“With the exception of Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado, the Democrat incumbents, Sen. Mark Pryor, Sen. Mary Landrieu, and Sen. Kay Hagan, all publicly support building the Keystone XL Pipeline,” the report notes.

Udall’s position on the pipeline is counter even to some Colorado Democrats. Sen. Michael Bennet, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, voted in favor of building the pipeline during a vote last year. And former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in February that he fells the pipeline should be built.

A Udall spokesman told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email that Udall  “opposed both the Democratic and Republican Keystone amendments during last year’s budget debate because they injected politics into a technical review process.”

He did not reply to a question about whether Udall’s stance is the same today.

In January, the U.S. State Department issued a report that the pipeline would not “significantly exacerbate” the accumulation of greenhouse gases, one of the primary reasons for President Obama’s hesitancy to endorse the project. The report indicated that even if the pipeline were not built, oil would still be extracted in Canada and delivered to world markets in other ways, according to the New York Times.

The decision to green-light the pipeline ultimately lies with the president, and the new Hickman poll found that if Obama does not grant a construction permit, it could hurt incumbent Democrats.

“From the voters’ perspective, publicly supporting Keystone XL is not enough,” according to the report. “Voter enthusiasm for these candidates dampens if the President rejects the Keystone XL Pipeline.”

In Colorado, 52 percent of those polled said they would be less likely to support Udall if the president blocks the pipeline.

The poll also noted a thin lead for Udall over former opponent Ken Buck (46-42 percent), but since the poll was conducted, Buck dropped out of the race to run for Republican Rep. Cory Gardner’s seat.

Gardner opted not to seek re-election so that he could challenge Udall.

The poll was conducted on behalf of the Consumer Energy Alliance.

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