Sunday, May 01, 2016

Millennials Love Clean Energy, Fear Climate Change, and Don’t Vote.  This Campaign Wants to Change That. - by David Roberts

Since '08, Millennial Registration Has Nearly Tripled (Credit: PNA) Click to Enlarge.
Democrats and climate hawks share a dilemma, and that dilemma is millennials.

Millennials — people born between 1980 and 2000, give or take, depending on your definition — are, in many ways, an incredibly attractive political target.  There's a lot of them, they lean Democrat, they are more concerned about climate change than older cohorts, and they absolutely love clean energy.

The problem is, too few of them vote.  "Between 1964 and 2012," writes Derek Thompson at the Atlantic, "youth voter turnout in presidential elections has fallen below 50 percent, and Baby Boomers now outvote their children's generation by a stunning 30 percentage points."  It's even worse in midterm elections.

Now, eco-billionaire Tom Steyer is going to put some of his money toward changing that.  His Super PAC, NextGen Climate, is launching a $25 million "national campaign to register and mobilize young voters in seven key battleground states to help elect climate champions to the White House and the Senate this fall."

NextGen has released a strategy memo that outlines the rationale for their campaign.  It contains all sorts of enlightening #MillennialFacts, which I will share with you now.

Millennials are numerous
In 2016, for the first time, millennials will be as large a share of the eligible voting population as boomers, roughly 30 percent. That said, boomers are still expected to outvote millennials this year.

But by 2020, millennials will outnumber boomers 34 to 28 percent, and cast more actual ballots. (These numbers are from the States of Change project; more here from Ron Brownstein.)
YES! scores show that the youth vote is particularly salient in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — states NextGen is targeting. If recent history is any guide, a swing of a few percentage points in the millennial vote could shift senatorial and presidential elections in those states.

Millennials support climate change solutions
The polling evidence on this score is copious. 
Polling on this has been consistent for many years:  millennials are enthusiastic about the need for carbon regulations and the promise of clean energy.

American attitudes on climate change are shifting
How Much Americans Worry About Global Warming (Credit: Gallup) Click to Enlarge.
All this is happening in a larger context.  Last month, Gallup polling found concern over climate change at an eight-year high (up roughly to where it was in 1990, sigh):
Perceived Cause of Global Warming (Credit: Gallup)  Click to Enlarge.
Perhaps more notably, it also found a sharp uptick in those who acknowledge that human beings are the primary cause of climate change:

Clean energy is a potential wedge issue for Democrats
Beyond climate change, and perhaps more salient in political terms, Americans love clean energy. It is one of the few political phenomena in the US today with an almost entirely positive image, among everyone but the far right.
The passion and energy of young people, particularly around the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, is a potentially potent electoral force.  NextGen is trying to translate some of that potential energy to kinetic energy (as it were).

Read more at Millennials Love Clean Energy, Fear Climate Change, And Don’t Vote.  This Campaign Wants to Change That.

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