For anyone paying attention, the US election yesterday was a disaster for Democrats. That party lost control of the US Senate (likely 53-47) and took a drubbing in US House races (242-174) and US governors' (24-8) races. The end result as far as science, environmental policy, and climate change is that science deniers now control key oversight committees on science, as many news organizations have noted. The likely result for at least the next two years is unending investigations, waste-of-time hearings, and other obstacles erected to make environmental regulators' working lives a living hell. Forget about the US ratifying any environmental treaties, much less anything having to do with climate change. On the state level, I expect rollbacks of renewable energy mandates at the least, along with attempts to repeal other environmental regulations and meaningless resolutions attempting to nullify various federal laws and/or appropriate federal lands for state and private use.
All of that, though, is in the future. The more interesting question right now is why Democrats lost in such a spectacular fashion. I'm sure there will be much ink spilled and numbers thrown about figuring that out but the long and short of it is this: Just like in the 2010 midterms, the Republican base voted and the Democratic base did not. In my voting precinct, only around 30% of eligible voters actually voted yesterday. Let that number sink in for a minute. Thirty percent. Seventy percent of eligible voters stayed home and let thirty percent decide the fate of this country. That's not atypical, either. In fact, the poll workers I spoke with thought it was a pretty good turnout for a midterm election.
We've all read stories, especially in the more liberal sectors of the Internet, about how demographic trends are working against the Republican party, about how their base is getting older and less diverse, etc. But that base votes. Every. Single. Election. Meanwhile, the Democratic base only seems to vote in presidential elections and ignore midterm elections. Until Democrats wake up and realize that every single election is important, not just presidential elections, we'll continue to see results like we saw yesterday. The repercussions of yesterday's elections on science, environmental, and climate policies will be felt for years to come. I just hope that someday, either a) Democrats wake up and vote every single time or b) Republicans wake up and realize that science is true whether or not they believe it. I'm not holding my breath.