Climate becomes a major voting issue in 2020 elections
Phoenix, AZ — As the fraught 2020 elections approach, the new organization Dayenu is mobilizing previously overlooked blocs of voters: Jewish and infrequent voters who are concerned about the climate crisis. With volunteers contacting hundreds of thousands of Jewish and “climate-concerned” unlikely voters in six key states — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Wisconsin — Dayenu’s non-partisan Chutzpah 2020 campaign is piloting an innovative get-out-the-vote approach that centers faith and amplifies a moral obligation to confront climate change as a decisive issue in these elections.
Halfway between the campaign’s launch and Election Day on November 3, Dayenu volunteers have already reached out to 194,396 voters in Arizona, Michigan and North Carolina. 352 individual Dayenu volunteers had conversations with 1,836 Jewish climate-alarmed voters and with 16,979 infrequent voters alarmed about the climate crisis but not affiliated with the Jewish community. Dayenu’s phone banks and text banks have resulted in 4,882 people making or confirming their plans to vote, with 42% planning to vote by mail or drop off a mail-in ballot, and 47% planning to vote early in person. Following cutting-edge political science research about “vote tripling,” Dayenu’s mobilization has prompted 2,211 people to pledge to remind three of their friends to vote.
“Voters are paying attention to the climate crisis in the 2020 elections — the question is how we can help them take action on their convictions,” said Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, CEO and Founder of Dayenu. “Grounded in our Jewish values, Dayenu is encouraging Jewish Americans to confront the catastrophic impacts of climate change, racism, and the COVID-19 pandemic, and make change on a systemic level. Together, we can build a country where all people have clean air and water, good jobs, and strong communities. But not unless we vote.”
2020’s climate-fueled catastrophic wildfires, heat waves, hurricanes and flooding, along with air pollution exacerbating the risk of contracting the coronavirus, are amplifying Americans’ concern about the climate. Three out of four Americans now describe climate change as either “a crisis” or “a major problem,” and 80% of American Jews are concerned about the climate crisis. Dayenu’s approach calls for leaders who have the chutzpah (the Yiddish word for courage) to take bold action on climate change, by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring justice, good jobs, and clean air, water, and energy for all.
By employing best-practices virtual voter communications tools, Chutzpah 2020 campaign volunteers are helping ensure that climate-alarmed voters know what is at stake in this election and how to vote safely and securely.
A young Dayenu volunteer in Phoenix named Max Sussman described his experience phone banking, saying, “it’s a different feeling organizing with other Jews. There was the automatic connection. People were really listening. I walked an older woman through the Arizona Secretary of State’s website, because she was very concerned about her ballot coming in the mail. We spent about five minutes together, making sure she was properly registered to vote by mail. This is a place we can make a difference.”
Dayenu’s effort is strengthened by more than 20 partner organizations including Interfaith Power and Light, Jewish Climate Action Network-NY, Jewish Council on Public Affairs, T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Avodah, Keshet, Uri L’Tzedek, Arizona Jews for Justice, and Jewish Youth Climate Movement.
Dayenu’s voter universe for the Chutzpah 2020 campaign was informed by modeling and research from the Yale University Program on Climate Change Communication. Yale’s research has categorized Americans into six groups based on their climate change beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, and found that the Alarmed segment has nearly tripled in size while the Dismissive and Doubtful segments have decreased, between 2014 and 2019. Polls from key states report similar climate concerns, such as a poll finding 71% of Arizona voters agree the federal government “needs to do more to combat climate change” and 66% support stronger action by the Governor and state legislature.
Dayenu leaders and Jewish community volunteers are available to speak to the press about their experiences mobilizing for climate justice in this crucial election year. Please contact [email protected] to arrange interviews.
Media are also invited to virtually join Chutzpah 2020 campaign phone banks and text banks, by prior arrangement.
For more information about the Chutzpah 2020 campaign, visit https://dayenu.org/chutzpah.