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Are Republicans Dominating The Energy Debate?

Pretty much. A handful of new Rasmussen polls find John McCain ahead on the issue by half a pool length:

By substantial margins, voters believe that the Republican candidate’s top priority is finding new sources of energy while his Democratic opponent is more focused on reducing the amount of energy we consume. Yet a separate survey found that for nearly two-thirds (65%), finding new sources of energy is more important that reducing the amount of energy Americans now use.

Also in terms of voter trust, other survey data shows that more voters now trust McCain over Obama on the energy issue.

Mind you, in reality, McCain has certainly not made "finding new sources of energy" his top priority. For one, as a cranky Tom Friedman pointed out the other day, McCain keeps skipping votes on extending the production tax credit for wind and solar power (some of those bills needed just one more 'yea' to pass). Unlike offshore drilling, those credits, while hardly an answer to all our oil woes, actually could make a difference to the U.S. energy supply in the short term—a number of ready-to-go wind and solar projects are currently on hold while the future of the tax credit remains uncertain.

More recently, both Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi have indicated that they'd make concessions and support the "Gang of 10" compromise that would attack the energy problem from all sides—alternatives to fossil fuels, efficiency, and offshore drilling. But McCain and other House Republicans have refused to support the deal, with some conservatives threatening to shut down the government unless they get an up-or-down vote on drilling and drilling alone. Still, griping aside, the GOP is winning the framing war, no question. Our editorial this week had some thoughts on how to argue the case for environmentalism as an energy strategy (which I do think is correct on the merits), but I'd love to hear other suggestions.

--Bradford Plumer