There are currently more than 100,000 active duty military personnel in the southeastern part of Virginia; if you count retirees and dependents, the number grows to over 300,000. The sequestration issue is already a big topic of conversation, with many of the 300,000 listed above worried about cuts.
As this article from the Navy Times shows, smaller fleet sizes inevitably increase the tempo of operations. You simply can't put one ship in two different places simultaneously. If we ask too much of our service men and women, they will vote with their feet - we do, after all, have an all-volunteer military. Retention will suffer, as will our ability to project strength and keep shipping lanes open. This will impact trade and overseas shipping rates, and possibly lead to higher oil and gas prices.
President Obama's snappy rejoinder to Mitt Romney last night (in which he compared navy ships to horses and bayonets) may have scored some debate points, but it will cost him votes in areas heavily dependent on a Navy presence (such as Virginia and Connecticut). This will also have an effect in down-ticket races, as Democrat candidates scramble to distance themselves. Does he think he has enough voters locked up to be able to lose critical swing state areas just for a soundbite?
I'm pleased to see Governor Romney -- on the spot with a rapid response -- up with a new ad already: