Most Want Keystone Pipeline Built

Most say jobs trump the environment.

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President Obama is on the losing side of the fight over building the Canada-to-Texas Keystone oil pipeline, with most Americans in two new polls favoring construction even if it is an environmental threat.

[Read Michael Lynch: Keystone XL's Rewards Outweigh Its Potential Risks]

Two new Rasmussen polls confirm GOP charges that Obama's move last week was aimed at wooing liberal environmentalists irked at his first three years in office.

In one poll published Monday, Rasmussen found that 56 percent of likely voters at least somewhat favor the pipeline, with 36 percent strongly favoring it. Just 27 percent are opposed.

And in a new poll just out, Rasmussen found that even more, 59 percent, believe creating jobs is more important than protecting the environment, a sure sign of the economic plight in the nation. Just 29 percent say that the environment trumps jobs. [See a collection of political cartoons on energy policy.]

The polling is likely to bolster GOP efforts to force Obama's hand again on the issue as Republicans move to show that they, and not the president, are more focused on job creation.

Pollster John Zogby tells Whispers that the president's decision was a good one because it is unlikely that he will win the states the pipeline is traveling through.

"While Republicans will scream that he has just killed the chance of 20,000 jobs in a very tough economy, Obama got to send a strong, decisive signal to environmental activists, who he has disappointed before, in a half-dozen states that will vote Republican anyway, about what most agree will be only 100 or so permanent jobs. Base politics, but that is what the president needs right now," said Zogby.

Rasmussen's results seem to back that up, with 79 percent of Republicans favoring jobs over the environment, while Democrats are evenly split.[Read the U.S. News debate: Should the Government Invest in Green Energy?]

And most think building the pipeline will help the nation. Fifty-six percent of voters also believe that if the pipeline is built, it will be good for the economy. Only 11 percent see the project as hurting the economy.

Republicans argue that the $7 billion project would create 20,000-250,000 jobs. Obama, forced to decide by Congress, rejected it because he felt it hadn't been studied enough.

  • Check out the U.S. News Energy Intelligence blog.
  • Read Mort Zuckerman on America's energy future.
  • Read the U.S. News debate: Is It Time to Drill in the Arctic Refuge?