Bush Rule Change on Salmon Not Likely to Affect Election

Last week, when the Bush administration announced that it would count hatchery salmon along with wild salmon when determining what species to list as endangered — a move widely expected to lead to the de-listing of several species — Northwest politicians expressed outrage. Pundits fumed. Enviro organizations generated indignant press releases. After all, salmon are thought to be near-sacred in the Pacific Northwest, part of the fabric of life, constitutive of the region’s very identity. Given that both Oregon and Washington are important swing states in what is expected to be a nail-biter of an election, some enviros are hoping that the issue will sink Bush’s hopes, turning residents ineluctably against him. But the public doesn’t seem to care that much, say pollsters. “There are only so many issues people can be fretful about, and right now salmon is not one of them,” said Tim Hibbits, a pollster in Portland, Ore. “[I]t won’t make any difference to swing voters, who are the key to the election. They won’t decide based on salmon.”