DENVER — Democratic Sen. Mark Udall isn’t a big fan of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline but switching his support could help him win reelection, according to a poll released Wednesday.
The survey, conducted by the Democratic polling firm Hickman Analytics for the pro-industry Consumer Energy Alliance, found that Colorado voters who back the pipeline would be more likely to support Udall for reelection if President Barack Obama approved the project.
A majority—66 percent—of Colorado voters surveyed said they support the construction of the Keystone pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canada to Texas refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
Of those, 52 percent said they would be less likely to back Udall if the president rejects permits to build the pipeline. Another 19 percent said they would be more likely to support Udall, while 29 percent said it would either make no difference or that they didn’t have an opinion.
The same survey found Udall leading Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck in a hypothetical match-up by 46 to 43 percentage points. In a race with a generic Republican candidate, however, 41 percent favored the Republican and 37 percent backed Udall.
Buck has since dropped out of the Senate race and thrown his support behind Rep. Cory Gardner, who’s now considered the frontrunner in the June 24 Republican primary.
A staunch environmentalist, Udall voted a year ago against a non-binding Senate resolution in support of the Keystone XL pipeline. Fellow Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet also voted in support of the project.
Udall attended a fundraiser last month held by San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer, who has pledged to spend $100 million on promoting the climate-change issue in the election and opposes the Keystone XL pipeline.
The poll found that 60 percent of those surveyed supported using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract oil and natural gas, while 29 percent opposed it.
There are at least two efforts underway to place anti-fracking initiative on the Colorado statewide ballot in November.
Udall was one of four Senate Democrats in competitive races targeted by the poll, which was conducted Feb. 17-20 with 400 likely voters. The survey has a +/-4.9 percent margin of error.