CEDAR RAPIDS — Armed with data showing millennials are passionate about clean energy and climate change, and find Donald Trump offensive, a super PAC is trying to bring environmental issues to the fore in the presidential campaign.
The group is making what it calls an “unprecedented and historic” push on Iowa campuses.
“Students do respond well to the issues of climate change and clean energy,” NextGen Climate state director Zack Davis said Thursday. “They need to be engaged and ... our organization believes talking to students face-to-face is where we can make a difference.”
It’s a difference that probably would benefit Democrat Hillary Clinton.
NextGen polling shows she is gaining support among undecided millennials and those who would have preferred Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee.
Although she lags behind President Barack Obama’s performance among 18- to 36-year-old voters, Clinton is gaining support as millennials learn more about the differences between her and Trump — especially on climate and energy issues. That’s according to the NextGen/Project New America Battleground Millennial Survey released Thursday. It polled 1,652 millennials in 11 states, including Iowa.
NextGen spent almost $74 million in 2014 and, according to open secrets, it had spent $395,124 in independent expenditures as of June — nearly all in opposition to Trump.
In Iowa, NextGen said its $1.19 million operation will be larger than any other campus program in the state. It will have 12 field organizers and 50 fellows on 23 Iowa campuses where more than 173,700 students are enrolled.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“We know that we have to increase our effort in Iowa as the race continues to tighten,” Davis said.
The Trump campaign is not ceding college campuses to Clinton and NextGen. The campaign has multiple staffers and volunteers solely dedicated to energizing the youth vote, Trump’s Iowa spokesman James Rockas said. Additionally, it is working with the Republican National Committee to target millennials.
NextGen’s plans call for emphasizing “voter-to-voter contact, to try to enable as much direct contact between voters and enable people to have that deeper conversation,” NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer said in a conference call.
Millennials care about more than climate change and energy, Rockas said.
The Trump campaign is convinced millennials will be swayed by a “bold economic plan (that) showed millennials and all Americans that he is the only candidate who is serious about improving America’s future.”
“By contrast, Hillary Clinton will protect the status quo — more of the same overregulation, overtaxation, and bloated bureaucracies,” he said. “Millennials know we can do better than a third Obama term from a career Washington politician.”
Rockas also questioned the validity of a poll conducted in August — before Clinton called half of Trump supporters “deplorable.”
“As a result of this offensive comment and her pay-to-play scheme at the State Department, Hillary’s popularity in Iowa and nationwide has plummeted,” he said, referring to a new Monmouth poll shows Trump leading Clinton 45 percent to 37 percent in Iowa.
Hillary for Iowa declined to comment on the poll.