It’s hard to believe, but the 2018 election cycle is already here.
The 2017 campaign lawn signs haven’t come down yet, but pundits are already calling the November 7th results a harbinger of Democratic victories to come in 2018. They may be right, but if we’re going to get serious about the deepening climate crisis, the more important question is: Will 2018 be the year that politicians (and voters) finally begin to focus on climate change?
Early signs indicate that they will.
Leading up to last week’s election, the Environmental Voter Project called, visited, and texted over 250,000 environmentalists in five key states: Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado, Georgia, and Massachusetts. We also had, unsolicited, more than 1,000 people contact our non-profit to volunteer for get-out-the-vote efforts – far surpassing any prior numbers. It’s clear from these conversations with volunteers and voters that environmentalists are now highly motivated.
That’s good, because climate voters are needed now more than ever.
After record seasons for hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves, and flooding, the impacts of climate change have never been more apparent, yet President Trump seems determined to make matters worse by gutting the Clean Power Plan, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, and slashing the EPA’s budget.
If 2018 is like previous elections though, most people who care deeply about climate change may not even show up to vote. According to Environmental Voter Project research, only 50 percent of environmentalists voted in the 2016 presidential election, compared to 69 percent among all registered voters. In the 2014 midterm elections, only 21 percent of environmentalists voted, compared to 44 percent among all registered voters.