The Udall campaign says that its options for changing how drilling will proceed are somewhat limited now that the BLM has sold parcels of land. "What ended up happening is what [Udall] tried to prevent," says Udall campaign spokesperson Tara Trujillo.
Wadhams counters: "We think that the drilling [on the Roan] can be done in an environmentally sensitive manner that will mitigate the impact on wildlife."
How much any of these alleged differences will make in the senatorial race is unclear. In the Centennial State, as in national polls, the economy in general is the voters' chief concern. No one has conducted any polls specifically looking at the Roan drilling issue, says political scientist Robert Duffy at C.S.U. "My hunch is that [the Roan issue] probably helps Udall marginally," he says.
But Duffy notes that the energy issue as a whole has probably helped Schaffer. Greg Schnacke, CEO and president of the Americans for American Energy (AAE), a Lakewood, Colo.–based lobbying organization, agrees. "Clearly, those that are for more energy development are doing better in election polling today than those who are against energy development," Schnacke says.
"The Colorado public is of two minds," Straayer says. Voters support energy development "because the nation needs it and it is good for jobs and the economy." But Coloradoans do not want "too much or too fast, as we cannot risk our recreation economy, our scenic splendor, our water, our wildlife [or] our heritage."
Once the winning candidate gets to Washington, of course, his decisions will affect national energy policy, not just Colorado's.
"Udall would be far more aggressive on the alternative energy and conservation front," says C.S.U.'s Duffy, and, because the Democrats will almost certainly still control the Senate after this election, Udall would have more influence. "Schaffer, on the other hand, will be in the minority party, and his record on energy and environmental issues is quite clear. He would continue the delusional 'drill here, drill now' policies," Duffy says.
On national issues, Udall has said he supports targeted tax relief for the middle class, ending the war in Iraq and proposes an "earned path" to citizenship for illegal immigrants, including paying back taxes and learning English. His Web site urges investment in renewable energy and "green technology."
For his part, Schaffer has said that he supports extending the Bush tax cuts, does not want the Iraq War to have a "date-certain" end, and does not want "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. Schaffer's Web site says he is also in favor of drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge and offshore areas.
The relative success of the Republicans "drill, baby, drill!" slogan nationwide, however, has made Udall and "the Dems have to play ball on drilling," says political scientist Kyle Sanders at C.S.U. "That is, at least until after the election."