Tom Steyer was the single-biggest known donor this midterm cycle, spending $67 million out of his own pocket to make climate change a pivotal campaign issue. He doesn’t have much to show for it: Steyer’s super PAC, NextGen Climate Action, could only claim three wins out of seven major races (Senate seats in New Hampshire and Michigan and Pennsylvania's gubernatorial race).
Republicans now control the Senate, gained in the House of Representatives, and picked up three gubernatorial seats—leaving environmental policy at its most vulnerable since President Barack Obama took office.
Given those results, is Steyer second-guessing his approach?
“I don’t think we would do anything differently,” he told me on Wednesday. “We said we’re going to try and figure out what the critical states are, try to compete on the ground and try to compete like hell. That’s exactly what we did. I have no second thoughts whatsoever.”
Steyer said he’s learned that engaging voters on climate change requires the issue to be framed as “a hyper-local human issue,” rather than a global problem. “We made a decision to put a bulk of our efforts in voter-to-voter contact to get out the vote.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that NextGen Climate Action won the Colorado Senate race. It won in Michigan.