The Midterm Politics Of Fracking

Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall has a challenging road to re-election this November. Polls show he’s locked into a tight contest against Republican Cory Gardner, and his party’s president has an approval rating in the low 40s.

Here’s another headache for Udall: hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking.”

Industry leaders praise the technique in which a mix of water, sand and chemical additives gets injected into underground rock formations. The high pressure applied in the process extracts trapped natural gas. Supporters call it a job creator that safely ensures America’s energy supply.

Environmental groups disagree, arguing that it contaminates the nation’s drinking water supply and creates air and noise pollution.

It is that debate – especially in a state like Colorado that has its share of energy interests as well as environmentalists – that has put Udall on the defensive. And his isn’t the only race in November where fracking could be an issue.

Indeed, the practice of fracking takes place in several states hosting competitive Senate contests, including Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell believes Republicans have the edge if fracking becomes an issue. “Republicans are going to frame it as energy and job security. What the Democrats are going to do is stress environmental concerns. Those usually play a stronger role along the coast and with a more diverse electorate that shows up in presidential elections.”

Read more from Lars Gesing at NBCNews.com

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Analysis & Political Strategy