A California billionaire and environmental activist has begun an effort to mobilize 200,000 millennial voters in North Carolina to elect Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.
It’s part of Tom Steyer’s effort to engage young voters in swing states across the country around progressive environmental issues and candidates.
Steyer is the founder of NextGen Climate, an environmental advocacy organization, and NextGen Climate Action super PAC. He has given the super PAC $38 million this cycle, almost twice as much as any other individual has given to independent political groups.
“What we’re trying to do is … address millennial voters on the topic of clean energy and climate, inform them on the differences between the candidates and engage them about how important their vote is in 2016,” Steyer told the Observer.
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Steyer said he wants to elect Clinton as well as a Democratic U.S. Senate and N.C. governor.
Experts say millennials could play a big role in the election – if they register and vote.
UNC’s Demography Center reported last year that 92 percent of eligible baby boomers are registered compared to 74 percent of millennials. Turnout rates are similar.
Political scientist Michael Bitzer of Catawba College found that millennials turned out at a 55 percent rate in 2012 compared to 78 percent for baby boomers.
Steyer said NextGen will try to reach millennials through campus organizing, social media and events such as concerts. The group plans to spend at least $500,000 in North Carolina.
“Trump and his Republican party are preying on the fears of conservative voters,” his website says. “But younger voters aren’t falling for it.… Younger voters have the power to stop Trump. But only when we vote.”
Kara Carter, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said the RNC has been canvassing college campuses in North Carolina for months. She said the GOP recruited 22 interns at UNC Charlotte just last week to canvass the school and surrounding neighborhoods.