The 2012 presidential race as California vs. North Dakota

by Ryan Streeter on February 24, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Think of North Dakota as a desolate wilderness without much going on? If so, you’re stuck in the past. The state is running a $1 billion surplus, has 3.5% unemployment, and is growing so fast it’s hard to find a hotel room if you visit.

The reason is because the state has aggressively pursued an energy policy aimed at opening up production while others are scaling back in vain pursuit of those elusive green jobs. The state’s energy boom is creating jobs that pay well and lots of opportunity. Now, tiny N. Dakota is poised to surpass California in energy production.

California, meanwhile seems determined to bury its energy production under a pile of aimless ideology amidst 12% unemployment and a $13 billion deficit.

Brian Calle writes in City Journal:

While California is rich in both conventional and renewable energy, gridlock in the state legislature has hampered development of these resources. Unlike North Dakota’s officials, who welcome the economic growth and new revenues, California lawmakers seem intent on reducing the state’s role in domestic oil production.

Joel Kotkin and the folks at New Geography have been writing about the North Dakota energy renaissance for awhile, and others are starting to wake up to the phenomenon, as Calle’s article indicates.

Every except the Obama administration, that is.

Despite improving economic numbers, Obama’s numbers are weighed down by rising prices at the pump. Obama is reflexively Californian in his energy worldview. The Republican candidate will most assuredly be North Dakotan – or should be. So should everyone running for Congress. It’s where the American electorate’s sympathies lie now, too, and so long as Obama continues to make no sense on the energy front, his opponents have an opportunity to turn the 2012 race into a CA vs. ND contest.