On the front line of the drive for US political action on climate, the youth movement has had a largely unsung partner—one with more experience, greater resources and often, ample time to devote to the cause.
Voters aged 65 and older are second only to those between the ages of 18 and 34 in naming climate and the environment their highest political priorities, according to a new 18-state study by the Boston-based Environmental Voter Project, or EVP.
In some states, these graying green voters add up to a block with potential to swing elections. In New Mexico, for example, more than one-third of older voters prioritize climate, the data show. In Colorado, one in four senior citizens give climate top weight when going to the polls. And in Pennsylvania, a state President Joe Biden won by 1.2 percent, and Arizona, where his victory margin was 0.4 percent, climate voters aged 65 and up make up 5 percent of the electorate.
Put another way: EVP identified 230,000 climate voters 65 or older in Arizona, a state where the presidential race was decided by 10,500 votes in 2020. “I think this data is a warning sign for politicians, because they know that older Americans vote, volunteer and donate at the highest levels,” said Nathaniel Stinnett, executive director of EVP. “And as they increasingly care about climate change, politicians better follow suit, or they’ll regret it on Election Day.”