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Obama's legacy harming Clinton's election chances?

By Dan Ronayne
updated 4:32 PM EDT, Fri June 20, 2014
Coal-producing states could be key to the 2016 presidential race, says Dan Ronayne.
Coal-producing states could be key to the 2016 presidential race, says Dan Ronayne.
  • Dan Ronayne thinks the new carbon emission standards could work against Democrats
  • The rules could push swing states over to the GOP in the 2016 election, he says
  • Ronayne: States like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan could switch from blue to red
  • Win two of those three states and the Republican wins the White House

Editor's note: Dan Ronayne is a communications strategist who advised George W. Bush and Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate Republican Conference and numerous political campaigns. You can follow him on Twitter @danronayne. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- While there has been much discussion about the heartburn the new EPA rule on carbon emissions is causing Democrats in this year's midterms -- especially those from energy producing states -- the person who should be most troubled about the President's decision is Hillary Clinton.

The administration's new coal rule could singlehandedly give the Republican nominee in 2016 a path to victory in an Electoral College that has been getting more and more difficult for the GOP.

States that have trended Democratic can flip back red.

Hello Ohio, the GOP has certainly missed your 18 Electoral College votes.

Dan Ronayne
Dan Ronayne

Pennsylvania (20 votes) and Michigan (16 votes) had all but turned blue, but with higher utility bills coming to voters before 2016, both are right back in play for the GOP.

Win two of those three states and the Republican wins the White House.

Virginia's 13 electoral votes just got a lot more winnable, too.

There is a reason the President did not act so aggressively on his environmental agenda until after his re-election. It would have doomed his campaign. His political advisers responsible for his re-election would have never allowed it.

The political folks are gone now and the President does not have to think about things in a political context anymore; he gets to think about himself and the history books.

But what's a legacy issue for Obama may not be a good thing for Hillary Clinton.

Head of EPA: Proposal offers flexibility
Obama's action on coal angers Congress
Cracks in the Hillary Clinton coalition?

To achieve the President's goal of a 30% emissions reduction will cost money, a lot of money. Much of the money will come from working families paying higher utility bills in an already difficult economy. Jobs will also be lost as businesses grapple with higher energy costs.

The EPA itself estimates electricity costs will increase up to 7% by 2020, critics say it will be far higher. The critics will be right on this one.

In 2014, the debate for Senate candidates will be about the prospect of higher utility bills. In 2016, the debate will be about actual higher utility bills.

It will be interesting to see the first presidential poll in Ohio after utility bills spike. If I'm a Clinton adviser, it is already giving me nightmares.

When voter's utility bills go up, they get mad. Just ask the Labor Party in Australia. They got decimated last year for passing a carbon tax.

Just five days before Election Day in 2010, Labor party Prime Minister Julia Gillard vowed at the National Press Club, "There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead."

That promise was not kept and a carbon tax went into effect in 2012.

As a result of the carbon tax, Australian utility bills went up over $500 per household a year. Public opinion turned on a dime. Gillard was removed from the 2013 ballot by her own party before a sure defeat and was replaced by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. It made no difference.

Now, on behalf of his legacy and place in history, President Obama and his EPA are going to make things difficult for the left in America in 2014 and beyond.

And all Hillary Clinton can do about the EPA rule that is creating an electoral minefield for her 2016 bid is applaud.

Clinton cannot be critical of the EPA rule or she could risk alienating her base and losing a second nomination fight. The environmentalists are a powerful force in Democratic primary politics, especially on the money side.

The 2016 presidential campaign just got a lot more interesting.

Michigan and Pennsylvania, welcome back to presidential politics, you are now again swing states.

The path to 270 electoral votes for the Republican nominee just got a lot easier.

And President Obama may have just denied Hillary Clinton the White House, for a second time.

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