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Is Offshore Drilling a Losing Issue for Dems?


Over at Next Right, William Beutler thinks Democratic opposition to off-shore drilling might be as much a loser as their support of gun control in the late ‘90s. Beutler notes that, like support for gun control, support for the offshore drilling ban is supported by less than a majority of Americans and, more significantly, is unpopular among independents and centrist leaning types such as Virginia Senator Jim Webb.

Beutler concludes that Democrats could cost themselves votes by adhering to what may end up seeming like a backwards view of our priorities.

Here’s my problem with linking gun control to offshore drilling: When it comes to drilling, we can make a fairly decent estimate as to how much oil is available and how long it will take to extract and refine. We can even weigh the risks associated with offshore drilling (i.e. the chance for oil spills) and factor that in to our decision. But for gun control, it’s almost impossible to put together a scientifically valid study of gun control laws’ affect on violent crime and murder. There are too many variables for us to measure, so many Americans decide that the best choice is adhering to our Constitution and enforcing the laws we already have rather than loading up on new, unproven restrictions.

I think, if Democrats want to oppose offshore drilling, they can make a reasonable case that the supply is minimal and the extraction timeline too extended for use to take the chance of fouling our coastline. Now, they would their position to actually be supported by the facts and, as best as I can tell, those are still coming in (at least I’m unconvinced we have the whole picture yet). But if the facts are on the Democratic side, then they may be able to avoid this becoming a hugely negative issue for them. If the facts are against them, then I suggest they eat their crow and get in line behind Jim Webb.