Despite assumptions that a new set of greenhouse gas-cutting regulations from the EPA would send vulnerable midterm Democrats into a panic, it looks like many in the red states have been preparing themselves for this moment. And, if a Politico report is on the money, that strategy will involve a lot of downplaying — both of the regulations' effects on businesses, and on their own chances for re-election.
In May, the Washington Post's Greg Sargent reported that Democratic strategists told him "the hype will be out of sync with political reality, and that in the end, [the regulations] just won’t matter that much." Like Karl Rove's repeated harping on Hillary Clinton's health issues, the assumption here is that Republican strategists will end up pushing Democrats to respond to the EPA guidelines (which we've previewed here, or you can dive in to the full proposal here) as if they're another potential Obamacare. In fact, the relatively modest regulations have the support of a strong majority of the country, as Pew's polling has previously demonstrated. Plus, under the plans, states won't even be required to submit their proposals to comply with the new regulations until 2016.
There are some races this year where Obama's energy policies are a huge factor weighing against Democrats, but it's not as if Democrats have to support the new regulations in order to politically survive. As Politico notes, many red state Democrats already have track records of opposing the EPA, or have specifically condemned the new regulations in advance, serving as a counterweight to the administration's moves to cut emissions. That applies to West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall and McConnell challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, who are both from heavy coal states where a position in favor of the EPA regulations would be a very leaky flotation device.
Politico's report has a good breakdown of how the regulations could play into each potentially competitive race, outlining a mixed but limited potential impact across the country on Democratic candidates.