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Now, one of the most well-funded super PACs on the left is hoping dogs can help accomplish a truly difficult trick: Motivate millennials to vote.
NextGen Climate, billionaire investor Tom Steyer’s PAC dedicated to curbing the effects of climate change, announced on Friday that it will be bringing “puppies to the polls” at a series of get-out-the-vote early voting events in key battleground states.
The group told Business Insider that so far it has four events where puppies will be present in Iowa, 11 events in North Carolina, 12 events in Pennsylvania, two events in Nevada, and two in New Hampshire, and is launching a digital campaign to recruit puppy volunteers for more events.
“We want every young voter to make it to the polls by Election Day, so we’ve enlisted our most loyal companions to help during this historic election,” said Nick Ellis, the group’s “National Puppy Coordinator” who is keeping tabs on events where the group is using puppies. “We are excited about this new approach to voter outreach.”
A NextGen representative told Business Insider that the idea was conceived when the PAC noticed anecdotally at locations where staff and volunteers brought puppies, there were higher numbers of voter registrations and commitments to vote than locations that did not have puppies.
NextGen is one of a handful of groups on the left that have eschewed traditional television advertising in their attempts to draw young voters, a notoriously unreliable cohort, to the polls.
The group tasked campus organizers across the country with individually texting potential millennial supporters in six battleground states – Iowa, North Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Ohio, and has used popular apps like Pokemon Go and Tinder to reach millennials on their cell phones.
Earlier this year, Steyer’s group pledged to spend at least $25 million aimed solely at engaging millennial voters this election cycle, money that’s largely dedicated to direct voter contact on places like college campuses, but the group’s overall spending this cycle has far exceeded that target.
In an interview, Steyer told Business Insider that NextGen believes it can activate Millennial voters, who he said are concerned about the impacts of climate change, but not so easily reached through traditional political advertising means.
“You’re looking at the largest age cohort in the United States right now – bigger than the baby boomers – that is passionate about energy and climate, and doesn’t participate at levels that are commensurate with its numbers,” Steyer said. “It makes total sense to try and talk to them on the issues, get them involved, try and get them to understand the true significance of their vote, and encourage higher participation.”
He added: “And it’s not something that is susceptible to a 15-second TV commercial, it really is a question of ‘How can you have this conversation in a way that is genuine and slightly longer and more personal from someone they trust?'”