Half of New Jerseyans Oppose Electric Vehicles Mandate, See Environmental and Health Advantages but Economic Drawbacks

Half of New Jerseyans Oppose Electric Vehicles Mandate, See Environmental and Health Advantages but Economic Drawbacks

More than half say they are not likely to consider buying an EV

 

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (February 19, 2024) – Half of New Jersey residents do not support plans to phase out the sale of new gas-powered vehicles completely by 2035, as announced by Gov. Murphy last November, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

 

While those polled in December see the policy’s environmental and health benefits, they are concerned about the costs on both a state and personal level – and more than half say they would not be likely to buy an electric vehicle.

 

“Even as a dozen or so states across the country adopt the same regulations, New Jerseyans are divided on the matter of electric vehicles and the impact they will have,” said Ashley Koning, an assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “It is an issue that is heavily influenced not only by partisanship but also by a hesitancy that likely stems from a widespread lack of information about the vehicles themselves and what the policy entails – not to mention the financial implications and the notable change this would cause in people’s everyday lives.”

 

Residents are slightly more likely to oppose than support the Advanced Clean Car II (ACCII) program, with a plurality in the strong opposition camp: 19 percent strongly support it, 24 percent somewhat support it, 15 percent somewhat oppose, and 35 percent strongly oppose it.

 

Despite opposition, majorities of New Jerseyans anticipate the policy will have a positive impact on the state’s air quality (58 percent) and residents’ health (51 percent). About a quarter say it will have no impact either way for each (22 percent and 26 percent, respectively).

 

Residents aren’t as optimistic about the mandate’s impact on the state’s and their own fiscal well-being, however. When it comes to New Jersey’s economy, 30 percent think the policy will have a positive impact and 44 percent say it will have a negative impact; 12 percent think it won’t have an impact either way.

 

New Jerseyans are even less optimistic about the policy’s impact on their personal finances: 19 percent believe it will have a positive effect, whereas 47 percent say negative; 25 percent say it will have no impact on them either way.

 

Demographics play a significant role in how New Jerseyans feel about the issue. Support for the 2035 mandate is strongest among Democrats (68 percent) and reaches a majority for groups who historically lean Democratic, such as Black residents (53 percent); residents who are multiracial or of backgrounds other than white, Black, or Hispanic (57 percent); those age 18 to 34 years old (53 percent); urbanites (55 percent); and those who have done graduate work (56 percent). Republicans are the least likely of any group to support the mandate (15 percent) and the most likely – by far – to oppose it (80 percent).

 

A majority of nearly every demographic sees the policy’s positive impact on air quality, with the exception of Republicans (38 percent positive) and residents living in the southwestern region of the state (49 percent positive). Democrats (75 percent) and those 18 to 34 years old (70 percent) are most likely to believe the policy would have a positive impact. A plurality or majority of most groups see the benefit the policy would have when it comes to residents’ health, with the exception of Republicans (26 percent positive).

 

More feel the policy would negatively impact the state’s economy and their personal finances than believe it would have a positive impact, however. The only groups where more are positive than negative about impact on the state economy are Democrats (42 percent) and Black residents (37 percent).

 

No group is more positive than negative about the policy’s impact on their own wallets, with positivity in any single demographic reaching no higher than 25 percent.

 

Over half not likely to purchase an EV

Fifty-six percent say they would be “not very likely” (21 percent) or “not at all likely” (35 percent) to consider buying an EV; 23 percent would be “somewhat likely,” 13 percent would be “very likely,” 3 percent say they already have one, and 4 percent are unsure.

 

A plurality of those who say they wouldn’t likely consider an EV say so because of associated costs (29 percent); coming in a distant second, residents who are unlikely to buy an EV also cite concerns over how long and how often one needs to charge their car (12 percent), followed by a lack of infrastructure and charging stations (10 percent).

 

Democrats are the only group in which more than half say they would be likely to buy an electric car (18 percent “very likely” and 34 percent “somewhat likely”), while independents (21 percent “not very likely,” 37 percent “not at all likely”) and especially Republicans (22 percent “not very likely,” 59 percent “not at all likely”) feel the exact opposite.

 

Socioeconomic status plays a role – likelihood of considering an EV increases as household income increases. The same pattern appears by educational attainment; likelihood increases as attainment increases.

 

“Despite both federal and state-level incentives in recent years to encourage electric vehicle purchases, few already have one, and the rest of New Jerseyans are split as to whether or not they want one – even in light of the new policy,” said Jessica Roman, a research associate at ECPIP. “The desire to own one may be a partisan issue, but the ability to comply can be a real economic issue for many New Jerseyans – or is at least perceived to be so.”

 

Just under half would be less likely to vote for an ACCII-supportive candidate

Residents are also somewhat mixed when it comes to potentially voting for a candidate who supports the EV mandate. Twenty percent say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate running for office in New Jersey if they supported the policy, 45 percent say they would be less likely, and 30 percent say it would make no difference to their vote. Republicans (76 percent), white residents (52 percent), and 50- to 64-year-olds (57 percent) would be firmly against a candidate who supports the policy, with a majority in each of these groups saying it would negatively affect their vote.

 

“Electric vehicles may become a tricky issue for candidates in election cycles to come – depending on which side of the aisle the candidate is on and the makeup of their electorate,” said Koning. “Those demographics who are historically more likely to turn out to vote are also the same groups most opposed to a candidate who supports the 2035 policy. And those groups who are most supportive of such a candidate are already squarely in Democrats’ camp.”

 

Results are from a statewide poll of 1,657 adults contacted through multiple modes, including by live interviewer on landline and cell phone, MMS text invitation to web, and the probability-based Rutgers-Eagleton/SSRS Garden State Panel from Dec. 13 to Dec. 23. The full sample has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points. The registered voter subsample contains 1,451 registered voters and has a margin of error of +/- 3.0 percentage points.

 

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