‘Un-American’ Cars vs. Climate Change: Republicans and Democrats on EVs

Henry Hoenig
· 5 min read
More than a third of American drivers say policies on
electric vehicles
(EVs) will be a factor in how they vote in this year’s election. In a recent survey,
asked Republicans and Democrats how they view EVs and the prospect of a future where EVs are the only cars available on dealership lots. Here’s what we found:

Gas Prices and the Environment

Democrats are far more open to buying an EV than Republicans, and attitudes toward climate change may explain much of the difference. 
Twice as many Democrats as Republicans say they will consider an EV as their next vehicle. Nearly half of Democrats (48%) say so, while only 22% of Republicans do. 
Among those who said they are interested in an EV as their next vehicle, both Republicans (83%) and Democrats (78%) are motivated primarily by saving money on gas. But concern about the environment is also a factor for two thirds (67%) of Democrats, compared with 44% of Republicans.  
The two sides offered starkly different views on EVs’ role in fighting climate change. Two thirds (67%) of Democrats say mass adoption of EVs is critical to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and limiting the impact of climate change. Only 24% of Republicans agree, while 53% disagree.
EV Angry Unhappy 2 X

Nostalgic Democrats?

Among those who are not interested in buying an EV, a third (34%) of Republicans said the No. 1 reason for their lack of interest was simply that they “prefer gas-powered cars.” More than one in five Democrats (22%) said the same. 
Republicans were actually somewhat less likely than Democrats to cite the inconvenience of charging EV batteries (18% vs. 25%) and EVs’ higher prices (17% vs. 22%). 
As conservatives, Republicans are thought to be more prone to nostalgia than “progressive” Democrats. But the opposite appears to be true when it comes to their preference for gas-powered cars. A majority of Democrats (53%) chose “Because I grew up with them,” compared to only 37% of Republicans. 
Still, larger numbers of both Republicans (77%) and Democrats (65%) cited the reliability of gas-powered cars as the reason.


Perhaps it’s because other countries have far outpaced the U.S. in EV adoption. Maybe it’s because EVs’ limited driving range, relative scarcity of charging stations, and long charging times interfere with Americans’ romance with the open road. Or maybe it’s EVs’ lack of growling engines. 
Whatever the reason, many Americans (16% overall), particularly Republicans, view EVs as “un-American.” Four times as many Republicans (29%) hold that view as Democrats (7%). While all of those respondents are clearly in the minority, it’s a significant chunk of a patriotic population, especially given the central role personal cars have played in American mythology.

The Biden Rules

The Biden administration’s new emissions standards, which will effectively mean that nearly all new cars will be EVs by 2032, upset far more Republicans than Democrats. A majority of Republicans said they were either unhappy (36%) or angry (28%) about them, compared to only 14% of Democrats (10% unhappy and 4% angry). But 12% of Republicans said they were happy (10%) or excited (2%) about the new rules, perhaps giving Biden an opening with a significant number of potential swing voters. 
It’s a question of freedom for both Democrats and Republicans. Among Democrats who were unhappy or angry, two thirds (67%) said the rules amounted to an unacceptable limit on their personal freedom. For Republicans, a whopping 95% said the same.

Up to the Job?

A lot of members of both parties, but particularly Republicans, don’t think the U.S.—including U.S. automakers—is up to the challenge of fully transitioning to mass adoption of EVs by 2032.
Only 20% of Republicans believe the U.S. will have the necessary infrastructure in place by then to make EV ownership as convenient as owning a gas-powered car. Democrats are far more optimistic, with 53% saying they believed the required infrastructure will be in place.
Republicans also expressed far more skepticism than Democrats about the ability of U.S. automakers to compete in an EV world. Only 28% of Republicans and a little more than half of Democrats (58%) said they thought U.S. automakers would become global leaders in the EV market. 
A majority of Republicans (56%) said they believed that a mandatory mass adoption of EVs would result in Chinese-brand cars flooding the U.S. market, while only 24% of Democrats held that view. 
Not surprisingly, then, two thirds of Republicans (66%) said mass adoption of EVs in the U.S. would cost thousands of Americans their jobs, while only 24% of Democrats agreed.
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In the Voting Booth

So how will all of this play out in November? Well, more Republicans than Democrats (39% vs. 32%) said EV-related policies will be a factor in how they vote. 
Republicans are more divided on EV policies than Democrats are. The vast majority (89%) of Democrats said they would probably (42%) or definitely (48%) vote for a candidate with pro-EV policies, while only 11% of Dems said they probably or definitely would not.
A strong majority (73%) of Republicans said they would probably or definitely not vote for a pro-EV candidate, but a significant number (27%) said they definitely (13%) or probably (14%) would vote for a pro-EV candidate.


All survey data is based on a nationally representative survey of 1,300 respondents conducted in April 2024 using Pollfish. Respondents were filtered to include only those aged 18+ who own or lease a vehicle and drive at least once a week. More information about Pollfish and its audiences can be found on its

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