A majority of Californians support the state's goal of banning sales of new internal-combustion vehicles by 2035, but opinions are highly partisan, according to a new poll conducted by UC Berkeley.
A newly passed state law requiring all new vehicles sold in California to be all-electric or plug-in hybrids received the backing of 55% or respondents, with 33% strongly in favor. In comparison, 39% said they opposed the plan, which gradually works up to a complete phaseout of the sales of new, non-plug-in gasoline and diesel vehicles over the next 12 years.
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However, opinions were sharply divided by political party and ideology. While 77% of registered Democrats and 88% of voters considering themselves "strongly liberal in politics" supported the plan, 81% of Republicans and 79% of those identifying as strongly conservative were against it.
"The findings show how everyday issues, such as what type of car to drive, can become highly partisan in our contemporary, politically polarized reality," Cristina Mora, director of the poll, said in a statement.
Despite that, Americans overwhelmingly see EVs as better for the environment, according to a poll conducted in 2021. It found that two-thirds of Americans agreed that EVs were better for the environment, while another poll from around the same time showed bipartisan support for increased use of renewable energy.
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A survey last year found that there was widespread, bipartisan support for EV adoption—although the ban wasn't something asked about, and it might be the point that strikes a nerve for Republicans.
Energy independence used to be something more widely preached by Republicans. Resistance from the Trump administration regarding EV policy might have played into this polarization.
Yet even at the height of the previous administration's antagonism against green cars, a 2019 survey found that 77% viewed EVs positively—including 70% of Republicans. So perhaps the prospect of a gas-car ban has altered the situation.