Since the moment polls started closing last night, DC types of all political persuasions have been wading obsessively through the Election Day returns. First and foremost, the angst was over whether preferred candidates had won. Beyond that, folks have been madly trying to read the tea leaves on how the political and public policy landscape has been altered. Confession time: I’ve been one of them.
In the coming days I’ll be sharing some of my conclusions with FishHQ readers who may be interested in what the election is likely to mean for fisheries. And a constant theme in those posts will be how significant the implications of this election have already been for the fisheries world — and how much is likely to change in its aftermath.
One popular refrain last night and this morning is that this was a status quo election, and at a superficial level that’s true: President Obama has won reelection; the Senate majority has been retained by the Democrats; and Republicans will continue to control the House. But to suggest a status quo outcome in any deeper sense would be, in my view, very wrong-headed. The reality is, when it comes to many of the most important dynamics that have shaped Washington over the last two years, this is another change election. And when it comes to fisheries specifically, a lot of key chess pieces are about to move.
I’ll be examining those changes in detail in subsequent posts. But here are some quick morning-after takeaways:
- Although the occupant of the White House hasn’t changed, we’ll see very significant turnover in key executive branch personnel — including, in all likelihood, at the cabinet level (Commerce Secretary) and in agency leadership (NOAA Administrator).
- Some of the most prominent and influential congressional voices on fisheries will be packing their bags after choosing to retire or suffering electoral defeat. Institutional knowledge on Capitol Hill is being lost, while opportunities to reshape the debate are being created.
- The transformation of the New England congressional delegation to a one-party enclave is now largely complete. The triumph of Democrats over Republicans in critical House and Senate races will have significant implications for how fisheries politics plays out in this vital region.
- With all sides focused on avoiding the fiscal cliff, and daunting federal budget realities looming, the resources that enable the information infrastructure upon which our fisheries management system relies are set to come under even greater pressure.
As you absorb the implications of last night’s results, we hope you’ll tune out the cable chatter from time to time, and instead tune in to FishHQ. We’ll strive to bring you the best insight and analysis on what it all means.