NextGen Climate

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

If you’ve got an issue -- a single issue -- you want to bring to the nation’s attention, there’s no better place to be right now than New Hampshire.  

The state's position as host of the first presidential primary gives enterprising advocates a chance to seize the attention of would-be White House occupants. But the issues now jockeying for position seem to be proliferating, and advocates' tactics often undercut the image of New Hampshire as a bastion of spontaneous encounters between candidates and ordinary voters.

It’s a week to the election, and New Hampshire campaigns are focused on getting their voters to the polls. And this year, there are some powerful new players on the field.

On a crystalline fall day, two orange tee-shirted canvassers for a group called NextGen Climate Change wander the breezy backstreets of Portsmouth.

“I know exactly where we are,” says worker Andrea Harkness.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

  Environmental issues have never ranked high on the list of issues that drive most voters to the polls. But this year, Tom Steyer – a former hedge fund manager and billionaire – has pledged to spend $50 million dollars in a few key races around the country, hoping to make climate change a central issue. This spending begs a question: can talking about global warming actually win elections?

Steyer’s operation in New Hampshire, NextGen Climate, has 24 full-time staff, and 5 field offices with two more slated to open in the coming weeks.