Reactions and Reflections from a Week of Fishing: The Race for the Presidency

Reactions and Reflections from a Week of Fishing:  The Race for the Presidency

August 3, 2020

I took some time away from my work with Power The Future last week to recharge and rest.  My family and I spent a week outside of Sterling, Alaska, on the banks of the Kenai River, where we focused on all we are thankful for. Rather than checking the Web for the daily COVID-19 numbers, the focus was on the daily fish counts.  Rather than turning on the news to see what demonstration or political story was creating the latest hubbub, we focused on my son’s birthday, as he turned six.

I spent nearly 40 hours fishing last week, and talked with over 100 people while doing so.  Some were Alaskans, some weren’t.  I met people from Canada, Japan, Israel and over 20 US states.  I decided before leaving for vacation that – aside from catching my limit of three sockeye salmon each day – my “work” for the week would be to ask people about themselves; their jobs, their families, and their views on life.  Here are some thoughts from the banks of the Kenai on the Presidential race:

17 people planned to vote for Trump (eleven of which were Alaskans), and 15 for Biden (two Alaskans), in November.  Opinions of the President ranged from “he’s doing a great job” to “he’s the worst president ever!”  Biden’s supporters were much more focused on anti-Trump rhetoric than they were with pro-Biden rationale for supporting him.

I asked the 15 Biden supporters whether they thought Alaska could survive the promised energy policy changes (i.e., no more leasing on federal lands for oil and gas, closing ANWR), and 14 of them were unaware of those positions, and what they might mean to Alaska.  That level of ignorance was somewhat expected, since most of the Biden supporters were from Outside, but still sobering that most didn’t understand his policies and priorities on energy.

Of the 17 Trump supporters, I asked whether the President moving the US into an energy independence position pre-COVID was important to them.  Nine said yes (six from Alaska).  Two said no (neither from Alaska).  Six (five from Alaska) were unaware we’d been energy independent, or asked me to clarify what I meant.  Again, for Americans – and especially Alaskans – to be naïve to what was a monumental occasion stymied me a bit.

What this gave me as a takeaway is that groups like ours have an uphill fight against the ENGOs and anti-development crowd; especially so if Biden wins in November.  The level of uninformed potential voters is high.  We’ll keep doing our part to change that between now and November.  Millions of direct and indirect jobs associated with the energy community may well depend on it.