Groups turn to registration, training young voters through issues like the climate crisis

As polls show economic issues and inflation in particular are top of mind for potential voters, some groups are hoping political messages focused on climate issues will help inspire new voters — especially young people — to go to the polls.

On Tuesday, as part of National Voter Registration Day, the Nevada Conservation League and Chispa hosted a virtual event to launch a statewide initiative called Climate Power, which will call for continued action against the climate change and will promote candidates who support pro-climate politics.

Climate issues speak to the younger generation of voters in a unique way that other issues cannot, says Michael Willoughby, a campaign consultant working with environmental groups in Nevada, and it could be a driving force that contributes to increasing the participation rate in the upcoming mid-term elections. .

“It wasn’t your generation that thought it was funny to make fun of global warming,” Willoughby says of young voters, a term that typically refers to 18 to 24-year-olds. “Before, every time it was cold outside, every snowflake was like, ‘Whoops! Global warming!’ It’s no longer funny.

Dexter Lim, who co-founded the youth-led climate action group Sunrise Movement Las Vegas, describes the climate crisis as an “existential phenomenon” that weighs heavily on the future.

“(It) will degrade everyone’s safety and quality of life,” they said, “and it will affect young people the longest.”

Sunrise members have already taken action. This Friday, they are set to hold walkouts at six Las Vegas-area high schools, including Clark and Palo Verde, as a call for climate action. They will also take part in a second public demonstration later in the evening.

In November, they are likely to vote and encourage their peers to do so.

The historic turnout of young voters helped propel Democratic victories across the country in 2018 and 2020, and turnout is again seen by many as crucial to political victory in 2022.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) maintains a “2022 Youth Electoral Importance Index” which attempts to quantify where young people could have the greatest impact.

For the Senate races, CIRCLE placed Nevada third – behind only Georgia and Arizona, and above Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. For governor races, Nevada placed sixth. In both races, the Democratic incumbents — Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Gov. Steve Sisolak — face stiff competition from high-profile Republicans — former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and the County Sheriff of Clark Joe Lombardo, respectively.

CIRCLE notes that Nevada is one of the few states where there were more newly eligible voters (ages 18-19) registered in June 2022 than in June 2018.

Climate Power launched a 12-week, $10 million ad buy in Nevada and nine other states this month. Early campaign ads promote President Joe Biden and his signing of the Cut Inflation Act, the bill (arguably strategically named) considered by many to be the most significant attempt to combat climate change ever enacted. The campaign will target young voters, Willoughby says.

A national NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll identified inflation as the number one voting issue. Thirty percent of people chose it over other issues, including abortion (22%) and health care (18%). A Nevada Independent/OH Predictive Insights survey found that 44% of respondents identified “jobs and the economy” as the most important issue facing Nevada. (Education came in a distant second at just 14%.) Other polls have found similar results.

Many polls do not ask specific questions about climate issues. But when potential and likely voters are polled, they recognize its importance and express a desire to act on issues such as expanding clean energy generation.

Willoughby sees the issues of the economy and the climate as one and the same, and he says much of the Climate Power campaign will focus on making the connection between climate issues and the economy, healthcare health and other issues that people consider important.

“The future of the economy is so deeply tied to (climate),” he says. “These things are completely and totally inherently mixed. You can’t have savings when it’s 125 degrees outside.

State Sen. Fabian Donate, a Democrat who spoke at the event on Tuesday, said he grew up in a community known for poor health outcomes.

“We have an obligation to address the disparities that exist in our most vulnerable communities, especially for our black and Latino neighborhoods that are experiencing negative health outcomes,” he said. “Most of them are exacerbated by our inaction on the environment. Let’s be clear: climate change is negatively affecting our communities, there is no doubt about that.

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