Billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer’s political action committee will spend $6.5 million this election season to convince Pennsylvania millennials to vote on climate-related issues.
Steyer’s political group, NextGen Climate Action, announced a $25 million campaign in April to encourage young people to support and vote for green energy candidates in the November 2016 election.
NextGen Climate justified its spending by pointing to a June 2015 poll showing 73 percent of young voters believe the U.S. should receive 50 percent of its energy from solar panels and windmills, among other renewable sources, by 2030.
The group is active on 70 college campuses in the Keystone State, and announced Thursday plans to expand to 22 others. The group told Huffington Post it plans to spend more than half of the money on campus engagement, and the other half on off-campus campaigns.
“The opportunity is for NextGen Climate to be part of a process of turning out young voters, which is what we’re focused on this election, so we can put progressive champions in office,” NextGen Climate press secretary Galen Alexander told reporters. “It’s really about [Pennsylvania] being a swing state and being in play this year.”
NextGen Climate’s plans on reaching more than 575,000 college students inside Pennsylvania.
The billionaire founded the group in 2013 and shoveled more than $74 million in the 2014 midterm elections with few positive results.
NextGen Climate will focus its efforts in battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Colorado, the last of which has a storied history with Steyer and his group.
The Democratic donor dumped more than $8.5 million into unsuccessful bids to get anti-fossil fuel candidates elected to office in 2014.
Steyer bankrolled former Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s unsuccessful reelection bid in 2014, in part because the former senator accepted more than $4 million from Steyer. The donation and Udall’s anti-fracking positions were unpopular in fossil fuel-dependent Colorado.
Pennsylvania is becoming a crucial cog leading up to the November 2016 election.
“Pennsylvania has been the state that most frequently is won by the candidate who wins the election,” David Rothschild, an economist at Microsoft Research who runs online forecasting model PredictWise, told the New York Times on Friday.
He added: “Currently, there are just 6 percent of scenarios where Clinton wins Pennsylvania but loses the election, and just 3 percent of scenarios where Clinton loses Pennsylvania and wins the election.”
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