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A 'green wave' of environmental voters may have blocked Republican control of Congress

Two "VOTE" buttons rest on an American flag. The buttons have rows of stars on top and bottom and the word VOTE in capital block letters in the center of the pin.
Image Credit: Wix

It looks like a green wave of environmental and young voters helped block the expected Republican "red wave" that was set to shift the balance of power in the U.S. midterm elections.

Nearly 1 million environmental voters mobilized to vote early across 17 states. But given the razor thin margins of control, if environmentalists want to continue a string of recent policy wins, they'll have to turn out to vote again in Georgia's Senatorial run-off.

According to early voting data from the Environmental Voter Project (EVP), 879,993 self-identified environmentalists cast their ballots before Election Day.

Specifically, these voters are environmentalists who, while listing climate and other environmental issues as a top priority, are unlikely to vote. EVP reaches out to them, with the goal of turning them into “super voters.” Over the last 6 years, the organization helped transform over a million non-voting environmentalists into consistent climate voters.

With the help of EVP’s thousands of volunteers across the country, the organization mobilizes through direct mailing, including volunteer postcards, digital ads, and phone banking.

Volunteers made the climate call to over a million voters and knocked on doors across Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New York: each of which had critical climate races.

While most election results are in, many with substantial implications for the climate, there are several runoff races across the country, and in some states like Arizona and Nevada, it remains too early to call.

Specifically, the senate race in Nevada between climate progressive incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto and GOP challenger Adam Laxalt will be extremely close. With Laxalt as big oil’s candidate, and Cortez Masto proving to be a champion for many renewable energy bills for the state, the results will have reverberating effects on Nevada’s energy policy, oil, and renewable development.

In Georgia, the senate race is headed to a December 6 runoff, because neither Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock nor Republican challenger Herschel Walker topped the 50% required under state law to win on the first ballot.

This senate race matters significantly for climate action in the Peach State. Not only could this seat determine the party that controls the senate, but Warnock is a fierce climate activist who earned a hard-to-come-by 100% score from the League of Conservation Voters, while Walker perceives climate change as nothing more than a liberal hoax.

When Warnock won the seat two years ago after a runoff, he ran on a platform of environmental justice and since, helped pass the historic Inflation Reduction Act, and made good on his climate promises.

Since 2017, EVP has worked in Georgia specifically, to mobilize non-voting environmentalists. Rightfully so, as the state faces a multitude of climate threats, from soaring heat and crops lost to drought, to intensified hurricanes and other extreme weather events.

The organization rallied 23,000 early Georgian votes in this election. In Georgia’s last runoff in 2021, the project managed to boost turnout by 0.9% among target voters.

Because tight elections are often determined by just 1 or 2 points, EVP’s efforts likely directly contributed to Democrats flipping the seat in the state.

“We know our approach works because we’ve seen it in action time and time again,” Nathaniel Stinnett, Founder and Executive Director of the Environmental Voter Project, said in a statement.

“Our consistent, long-term approach uses every single election as an opportunity to create habitual environmental voters. We’ve mobilized Georgia environmental voters in dozens of federal, state, and local elections over the past few years, and this group is going to be key to deciding the result of Georgia’s runoff election.”


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