NextGen plans $25 million effort to get young voters to polls

Organizers will visit 200 campuses, including in Iowa

A voting location in Marion in 2013. (File Photo - Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)
A voting location in Marion in 2013. (File Photo - Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

DES MOINES — An outside group that was one of the biggest spenders in the 2014 Iowa U.S. Senate race is launching a voter engagement effort squarely aimed at getting young voters to the ballot box in November to elect federal candidates who offer clean energy solutions.

“The 2016 election likely to offer the starkest contrast between presidential candidates that has been offered for many decades,” Tom Steyer president of NextGen Climate.

Young voters are the best hope for solving climate issues because they “will have to live with the results for the longest time,” Steyer said in announcing what he said would be the largest campus vote effort ever undertaken by a noncandidate campaign organization. His organization will have hundreds of organizers on the grounds at more than 200 campuses, including in Iowa, to register, engage and turn out young voters.

Steyer, a businessperson and philanthropist, has budgeted $25 million for the campus campaign because he is determined to make sure young voters, who are not as engaged as older voters, are difference makers in the fall election. In Iowa, he said, more than 10,000 young voters have pledged to vote based on climate and clean energy issues.

“When young people engage in the political conversation, when they turn out and vote, and use the fact they are the biggest cohort in this election cycle, incredible things can happen,” he said.

NextGen is including Iowa in its plans because it is a battleground state in the presidential election and because the congressional contests, especially the Senate race, could make a difference in determining energy policy.

He expects to make an endorsement in the Senate race involving Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and a Democrat to be determined in the June 7.


Rather than endorse now, Steyer said NextGen prefers to let the candidates offer their solutions and then let the voters know the facts.

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