Non-Partisan Group Forming ‘Army Of Environmental Super Voters’ Expands To More States
Nathaniel Stinnett doesn’t think small when it comes to the environment, and he proved that in 2017 when he said he was going to build an “army of environmental super voters” that would rival the National Rifle Association (NRA) and help elect candidates who share his commitment to the planet.
HuffPost reports that Stinnett’s Environmental Voter Project was successful in getting almost 60,000 eco-conscious voters in six states — Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Pennsylvania — to vote for the first time in the 2018 midterm election.
But rather than resting on his laurels Stinnett is now expanding to six new states — Arizona, Virginia, New Mexico, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Maine — in an effort to get millions more voters to show up for the 2020 election:
“We’re not going to let a single environmentalist stay home on Election Day,” Stinnett said.
The way the Environmental Voter Project finds potential voters it can enlist in its cause is based on a method that’s been used for years by advertisers:
“To identify voters, the four-year-old Environmental Voter Project builds profiles based on the kind of demographic and behavioral data advertisers use, then runs a series of polls to verify the data and determine how likely voters are to list environmental issues as their political priority. It then runs the profiles through an algorithm that scores voters based on how likely they are to be ‘super environmentalists. Finally, the group weeds out people whose public voting records show they turn out for most elections.
“What remains is a pool of registered voters who don’t need to be sold on the realities of the climate crisis ― they just need to be persuaded to turn out on Election Day.”
Once voters have been identified, the project’s 3,000+ voters go to work mailing flyers, sending out text messages, and knocking on doors. But they don’t specifically talk about issues regarding the environment. Instead, they use techniques of persuasion: gently shaming voters for not participating in elections, reminding them of upcoming elections, and following up.
The goal for 2020 is incredibly ambitious, aiming to enlist at least 5 million new voters ahead of the primaries that will be held in states around the country.
But the effort goes far beyond one single election, Stinnett notes:
“We’re not focused on one election. We’re focused on changing the electorate.”
As with any organized effort that seeks to mobilize voters, the Environmental Voter Project does require funding, but it’s been able to raise the money needed to expand:
“The group raised about $475,000 in 2017. Last year, it hauled in over $1.5 million. Billionaire Jeremy Grantham, the British financier who’s pledged roughly $1 billion to climate causes, is one of the primary funders, as Grist reported last year. But about 2,000 donors gave $100 or less each over the past year, Stinnett said.”
All of this is happening at a time when the global climate crisis is becoming a major issue for 2020 candidates. Almost 2,000 candidates at various level have said they will not accept donations from the fossil fuel industry. Additionally, millions of students say they will go on strike next month and demand action on climate change.
Polls also show that the issue of climate change and the environment is now a priority for many Americans:
“84% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said climate change is a major threat to the country’s well-being, up from 58% in March 2013, according to a Pew Research Center survey released this week. That compares with 27% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, up from 22% in 2013. But the Amsterdam-based polling agency Glocalities found 58% of Republicans ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ with the statement ‘I worry about the damage humans cause the planet’ ― an 11% increase from 2014.”
As 2020 approaches, the Environmental Voter Project is now able to narrowly target its focus from voters who listed the environment as one of their top two issues to those who say it ranks first for them, leading Nathaniel Stinnett to remark:
“We realized there are now enough of those people that we can accurately identify them. If there aren’t enough climate-first people, it’s hard to build a model to help you identify them. You have to have a significant enough number. Now we do.”
Featured Image Via Pixabay