Barack Obama’s flip-flop on offshore oil drilling is a major strategic victory for House and Senate Republicans.
The Democratic plan was to reup the Congressional ban on offshore oil drilling as part of a long-term continuing resolution. Reid had originally promised a vote on offshore drilling, but has backed off that promise now that it has become a potent issue.
Now it is time to drive this issue home as a clearly branded Republican issue. The longer the fight goes on, the more it paints Democrats into a terrible corner. And there is a synergy between high energy costs and broader economic insecurity that will likely be the driving issue in November.
But let’s review the dynamics that will lead to the win on this issue:
First, the dramatic events yesterday on the House floor telegraphed an intent to take this issue into recess. Undoubtedly, this is the major issue that Republican members will be talking about during the recesss. I would be shocked if there were not robocalls dropped in prior to townhalls in Democratic Congressional seats around the country. There will almost certainly be ads. Now the Republicans have a line that "even Barack Obama supports this, so why can’t we get a vote in the House and Senate?"
Second, there is a bipartisan group of Senators who are pressuring Reid on this point, not to mention significant caucus-internal pressure on Pelosi. There will be enormous pressure from inside the Congress to force a vote on these issues.
Third, Republicans and conservatives are actually organized on this issue. Drill Here Drill Now has 1.4 million signatures and the American Family Association, with their 3.3 million person list, also seems inclined to play on this issue. You can expect enormous pressure from constituents on these issues.
Fourth, an enormous majority is with us, and the higher-profile the issue is, the more people are likely to actually vote it. But the Dems have no reasonable action they can take until September while we pound them.
This will be fun. We have to keep track of what happens in Congressional districts and at town halls this recess.
More on that coming.