MEMO: Climate’s Impact on the Midterms Thus Far

To: Interested Parties
From: Lori Lodes, Executive Director, Climate Power & Heather Hargreaves, Executive Director, Climate Power Action
Date: November 10, 2022
RE: MEMO: Climate’s Impact on the Midterms Thus Far

While votes are still being counted, there are a few things that are clear about this midterm election: 1) Voters rejected MAGA candidates and their extremist agenda; and 2) Climate and clean energy investments passed by Democrats in Congress proved to be a political winner. The red wave that Republicans expected did not materialize. Instead,  voters turned out for candidates who ran on protecting our rights and taking bold action on climate change and lowering the cost of prescription drugs and energy.

This memo overviews six initial races that demonstrate the climate movement’s impact in the 2022 elections and includes highlights from Climate Power’s work leading up to the 2022 midterms. 

Here Are A Few Examples Thus Far of Climate Wins: 

U.S. Senate: Though control of the Senate is still yet to be determined, we are optimistic that Democrats will retain control and possibly even gain a seat. Across the country, candidates who ran on climate and clean energy policies that will lower costs for families have overwhelmingly won.

  • Senator Michael Bennet (Colorado): Republican candidate Joe O’Dea’s attacks on Sen. Bennet for supporting the Inflation Reduction Act and its climate and clean energy provisions proved ineffective, with Sen. Bennet handily winning the contested race. Bennet ran on climate, clean energy and conservation issues while O’Dea’s strategy of falsely claiming a “war on energy” fell completely flat. 

    In Colorado’s Senate race, campaigns and Democratic groups spent $1,021,798 on pro-climate paid media, and Climate Power Action invested nearly $400,000 to mobilize 109,961 climate voters to turnout for Sen. Michael Bennett. Sen. Bennett is currently ahead against O’Dea by about 225,000 votes.

  • Senator-elect John Fetterman (Pennsylvania): John Fetterman’s victory over Mehmet Oz in this formerly Republican-held seat is a win for climate and clean energy. Fetterman was one of the most vocal candidates on corporate greed and price gouging by oil and gas CEOs, saying “It’s time we crack down on the big, price gouging corporations that are making record profits while jacking up prices for all of us.” Holding oil and gas CEOs accountable for their price gouging of consumers was a top issue for 76% of voters in battleground states according to a recent poll from Data for Progress and Climate Power. 

    In the Pennsylvania Senate race, Climate Power and Climate Power Action spent $1,769,715 in support of Fetterman, including a targeted digital and mail IE program that talked to a universe of 389,238 voters.

U.S. House of Representatives: Control of the U.S. House of Representatives is still yet to be officially determined, but win margins will be much smaller than expected. One thing that is clear is the extreme positions and attacks on energy issues by GOP candidates were ineffective with voters. 

  • Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-7): In a tough re-election, Abigail Spanberger ran on the Inflation Reduction Act by highlighting the benefits of investing in clean energy and how the legislation will lower energy costs for Virginia families. Climate Power Action spent nearly $180,000 to mobilize 36,438 climate voters through the Climate Voter Mobilization program. Spanberger is currently leading by approximately 10,384 votes, which is less than a third of the climate voters our program targeted. 
  • Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-3): As a proud proponent of the Inflation Reduction Act, Sharice Davids’ win in Kansas shows that climate and clean energy issues are popular among voters in a deeply red state. Climate Power Action spent over $115,500 in independent expenditures to support Davids, that included a targeted digital and mail IE program that talked to a universe of 13,675.
  • Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-1): In a state where high energy costs were central to the race, incumbent Chris Pappas celebrated his vote for the Inflation Reduction Act, touting the benefits of the clean energy investments and provisions that will lower energy costs for working families. Pappas has been considered a toss-up race for the entire cycle and is currently winning by over 8 points. Pappas was a key target for the Climate Power Action program and we reached 17,023 voters to support his re-election.
  • Representative-elect Emilia Sykes (OH-13): In a state that has been trending red, Rep. Emilia Sykes faced extreme Trump-backed candidate Gesiotto Gilbert in the contested race and won. Sykes made climate a key plank of her campaign calling clean air and clean water a basic human right. Climate Power Action added Sykes to our IE program in October and we reached 24,147 voters to support the election of this new climate champion. 

Climate Power’s Impact on the 2022 Election Cycle

Overall this election cycle, Climate Power and Climate Power’s affiliated Super PAC, Climate Power Action, spent more than $10 million with key partners to elect climate champions and turn out climate voters by celebrating how Democrats delivered with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. As mentioned above, we focused on key races and states where climate voters, including youth and communities of color, would have an impact. The initial results show that our strategy worked. 

Below are some highlights by the numbers from Climate Power and Climate Power Action’s work in the midterms this year:

  • 1st: Climate Power Action launched in June of 2022. This year was Climate Power’s 1st cycle with an Independent Expenditure program. Climate Power Action focused on electing climate champions to office and building the political strength needed to secure and protect ambitious climate legislation. The efforts centered on a dynamic campaign aimed at turning out voters who want congressional candidates to make averting the climate crisis a top priority.
  • $9 Million: Climate Power Action spent nearly $9 million to support candidates in 7 competitive Senate seats and 26 competitive House races. In addition to the winning candidates listed above, this included candidates such as Mark Kelly in Arizona, Wiley Nickel in North Carolina, Elissa Slotkin in Michigan, Andy Kim in New Jersey, and Greg Landsman in Ohio, among many others.
  • $135 Million: Climate Power Action’s program was part of a joint effort with Climate Reality Action Fund, EDF Action Votes, League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund, NRDC Action Votes, and NextGen PAC, for an unprecedented $135 million climate IE program aimed at mobilizing climate voters in key battleground states in order to protect the Democratic majority in Congress. 
  • 15.7% Increase in Support for Democrats: The messages tested and used in the Climate Voter Mobilization program had a 7.3% average effect on enthusiasm to vote and 15.7% average effect on strength of support for Democrats. The model, constructed by the analytics team at BlueLabs, identified voters in the key federal electoral geographies who likely supported Biden in 2020, that were in danger of dropping-off from Democrats in 2022, and are uniquely mobilized by climate and environmental issues. 
  • More Than 2 Million People: The Climate Voter Mobilization program, using sophisticated modeling from Blue Labs, targeted 2 million people. Voters under 30 years old made up 31% of our targeted audience—and voters under 40 made up nearly 60% of our targeted universe. According to an Edison Research National Election Pool exit poll, the national youth vote choice for the U.S. House of Representatives was 63% for Democrats, 35% for Republicans. That’s almost identical to 2020, when youth preferred Democrats to Republicans by 62% to 36%. Additionally, young people 18-29 are the only age group in which a strong majority supported Democrats.
  • 8 Flights of Mail: Climate Power Action also partnered with Somos PAC and BlackPac to send 8 additional mail flights to 196,205 Black and Latino voters as part of our Climate Voters Mobilization program. The mail focused on how Democrats delivered on climate and the benefits of climate action to voters.
  • 38+ Partners to Turn Out Youth Voters: In September, Climate Power and Michelle Obama’s group When We All Vote launched to encourage young voters to show up in the midterm election and keep building momentum for climate action. Climate Power recruited a diverse group of progressive, environmental justice, and youth organizations including Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Action Fund, EcoMadres, Intersectional Environmentalist, Hip Hop Caucus, NextGen America, and many more. 
  • 40 College Campuses: Ahead of National Voter Registration Day, Climate Power launched an innovative ad campaign geared towards young climate voters on more than 40 college campuses in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. The campaign includes ad buys in college newspapers, sponsorships of campus newsletters, and partnerships with campus influencers. The campaign launch and our partnership with When We All Vote were covered by The Virginian Review, Wis Politics, News One, Houston’s Majic 102.1, Get Up! Mornings With Erika Campbell, AFRO American News Papers, and more. 
  • 6,162,000 Views: We worked with more than 40 influencers encouraging young people to confirm their voter registration and make a voting plan. Overall, the program, which was covered by TIME, generated 6,162,000 views and 534,000+ engagements across youth-heavy platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.
  • 760+ Latino Media Hits: We started and closed this election cycle by driving the narrative regarding Latino voters and climate, connecting the economy and climate action as important issues Democrats have delivered for Latinos. Our work has resulted in a gradual change in how Latino reporters cover climate and we are starting to see how Latino media are more inclined to make the political connection between climate and communities of color. Our work has been showcased in Telemundo, Univision, La Opinion, El Diario NY, Univision Online, Axios, Latino Rebels, LA Times, El Tiempo Latino, Radio Bilingue, Nuestro Foro, and many more. 
  • Over 1,650 SMS Subscribers Activated in the Final 24 Hours: In the last days of GOTV, Climate Power’s influencer program partnered with Impact and Environment to activate 1,653 subscribers for Climate Power’s broadcast SMS list. This call to action helped users make a voting plan and cast their ballots before the polls closed on November 8. These posts also generated nearly 2,000 click-throughs to for supporters to check their registration status.
  • 13 States Texted: In the final days of early voting, Climate Power partnered with When We All Vote and Vote Rev to launch a peer-to-peer campaign that texted voters who have already voted and asked them to remind three of their friends to vote. The program targeted young voters and voters of color in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In addition, Climate Power Action sent 820,553 paid texts to our modeled universe of voters in Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, CA-27, NC-13, NM-2, NY-22, OH-1, and OH-13.