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One happy medium between Obama and Republicans? Energy.

The 2010 election signaled voter demand for jobs. The best federal response would be a GOP-Democratic compromise on energy issues.

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One early test of whether President Obama and a newly emboldened GOP will lock horns over the next two years – or decide to get along – may come on energy issues.

Despite Washington’s wider political split, a potential still exists for finding common ground on such energy-related steps as creating jobs in electric-car manufacturing or expanding nuclear power and domestic natural gas as cleaner alternatives to coal and oil.

But taking these steps will require Republicans not to see their big wins in Congress as simply a mandate with no possibility of compromise. For Mr. Obama, a diminished power for Democrats signals the need to lessen his ambitious energy goals and to welcome different directions.

One big lesson of the 2010 elections is that some regions want to steam ahead on difficult energy choices and others don’t. That calls for a more nuanced federal role, one that allows room for differing ideas on energy security, climate change, economic trade-offs, and the role of markets.

California voters, for instance, decided Tuesday in a ballot initiative to keep their 2006 clean-energy law that will curb greenhouse gases and support clean-energy industries. And in the Northeast, where 10 states are already cooperating to impose a cap-and-trade system on big polluters, election results indicate continuing support for that project.

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