KEYSTONE XL: Why Republicans Still Bet On Pipeline While Most Dems Roll Their Eyes

Republicans seem to be obsessed with Keystone XL.

Approving the oil pipeline from Canada became their first order of business in Congress this year and has been central to the party's messaging.

Republicans and their loyalists are campaigning for Obama to sign the bill, which passed more than a week ago but is just now formally heading to the White House.

If Republicans are obsessed with KXL, most Democrats are increasingly treating the debate like an annoyance, downplaying any benefits the pipeline could bring.

Public opinion has generally been on the Republicans' side in support of KXL. But analysts aren't sure the GOP will see significant benefits or Democrats any fallout from the positions they've staked out on KXL.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell, a veteran of the McCain-Palin campaign, said the pipeline debate is "always a good go-to for the GOP, and it's not one that's going to go away."

O'Connell, frequent commentator on energy issues, said redundancy is often key to political messaging. "Keystone is not just a pipeline," he said, "it represents a larger discussion Republicans want to have on energy security and jobs."

Still, the problem for Democrats, O'Connell said, is that arguments in favor of KXL appeal to "white, working class voters." It's a section of the population that is trending to the GOP and turned to Republicans in a big way during the midterm elections.

Read more from Manuel Quiñones at E&E Publishing

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Analysis & Political Strategy