Democratic donor Tom Steyer dumped tens of millions of dollars in a failed attempt at herding young people to vote against President-elect Donald Trump.
Steyer’s $25 million campaign simply did not produce results. In fact, young voters stayed home in larger numbers than in 2012, when President Barack Obama won his second term.
Only about 24 million voters under 29 voted this election year, according to exit polls. Their share of the voted dropped from 26 percent down to 15 percent this year in several battleground states. Steyer plowed money into youth outreach only to see young voters avoid the ballot box.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the overall youth vote, though she did it by a much smaller margin than Obama did four years ago.
In Florida, for instance, Clinton gathered 16 percent fewer millennial votes than Obama did in 2012. In Pennsylvania, a state that hasn’t gone Republican since 1988, she cobbled together 19 fewer points.
Trump did marginally better in the Keystone State than former Republican nominee Mitt Romney did, exit polls show. He didn’t do incredibly well with young voters, but Trump did well enough among those under 29 to carry the state by fewer than 70,000 votes.
Clinton’s poor showing in Pennsylvania portends bad news for Steyer’s pocket book.
Steyer’s political action group, NextGen Climate, was active on more than 95 college campuses in and around Pennsylvania leading up to Election Day. It spent more than half of the money on campus engagement, and the other half on off-campus campaigns.
NextGen 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.
NextGen planned to reach more than 575,000 college students inside Pennsylvania before youngsters herded to the ballot box. The herd was much smaller than anticipated, namely because college-aged voters were underwhelmed by their prospects.
One Pennsylvania citizen who voted for Clinton, Sarah Ricker, told reporters Nov. 14 that she understands why a lot of millennials didn’t vote.
“I was actually like excited to have a woman be running,” Ricker said. “I just wish it wasn’t her. I wish it was somebody a little bit more convincing, I think. She’s experienced, she’s smart, she knows what she’s frickin’ doing. But she just wasn’t charming. She didn’t have that same charm that Barack Obama has.”
Steyer’s inability to shuttle voters to the ballot box is becoming a chronic problem for Democratic candidates – in 2014, for instance, he shoveled more than $74 million in midterm elections with few positive results.
The California-based politico dumped more than $8.5 million into unsuccessful bids to get anti-fossil fuel candidates elected to office in 2014.
He 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.
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