NextGen Climate Iowa’s #Election2016 Journey

It’s hard to believe it’s already Election Day! It’s been a whirlwind since we set up operations for the general election in the summer of 2015. Over the past 18 months our staff has grown to over 50 field staff and campus fellows on 23 campuses from Sioux City to Dubuque, making our campus program larger than any other campaign in the state. We organized on campuses typically ignored by candidate campaigns, which allowed us to build strong relationships with students and communities. We were able to turnout students to vote who may not have done so without NextGen Climate Iowa organizers educating them on how and where to vote.  

Over 38,000 Iowans committed to vote for climate champions this year, bringing NextGen Climate Iowa’s support base to over 100,000 Iowans since we began organizing in the state in 2014–larger than any other issue group in the state.

Nearly 17,000 students voted early on the 23 campuses NextGen Climate Iowa organized on. Millennials are typically deemed apathetic and disengaged, but NextGen Climate Iowa saw the opposite. We saw millennial enthusiasm grow the closer the election got, and not only were millennials getting excited about the election, but they we also saw them breaking for Hillary Clinton in a significant way.

Millennials overwhelmingly support transitioning to a clean energy economy, in fact 92 percent of battleground millennials want to transition to 100% clean energy by 2050 and 81 percent say clean air and water is a high priority. Moreover, 78 percent of millennials are more likely to vote for candidates who offer clean energy solutions, which is why NextGen Climate engaged young people’s passion on climate and clean energy into power at the ballot box.

Throughout the 2016 General Election cycle, NextGen Climate Iowa has worked to engage millennials on the importance of making their voices heard at the polls and reaching students where they are: on campus and online. In addition to in-person conversations on campuses, NextGen Climate used unique tactics like peer-to-peer texting, social media and entertaining digital ads to educate students about voting. We also had volunteers bring their puppies with them to campus to engage students on the importance of voting, because who doesn’t love a puppy break.

Between NextGen Climate Iowa staff and over 9,000 volunteers mobilized through field and digital sign ups, we sent over 600,000 texts to Iowa voters, registered nearly 8,000 Iowans to vote, and generated over 9,000 absentee ballot requests from non-likely voters.

NextGen Climate Iowa had a blast turning out the #youthvote this year, but when polls close this evening, there’s no time to sit back and be quiet. This election has empowered young people to make their voices heard and bring their demands to the ballot box, who will continue to voice their demands and hold elected officials accountable for transitioning the United States to a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050.

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