Poll shows how support for EVs will impact candidates (and it’s not positive)

Support for Gov. Phil Murphy’s plan to prohibit the sale of gas-powered vehicles does not play well with the electorate, a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Monday showed.

Just under half of those surveyed said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate that supports regulations that would prohibit the sale of gas-powered vehicles, starting in 2035.

The idea, part of the “Advanced Clean Cars II” filing, indicates that 51% of all 2028 model year cars sold (they go on sale in 2027) must be electric vehicles. The regulation is expected to give annual increases in percentage of EV sales — jumping to 59% of 2029 year cars, then to 82% of 2032 year cars before hitting 100% in 2035.

According to the poll, 20% said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate running for office in New Jersey if they supported the policy, but 45% said they would be less likely.

The poll indicated about 1 in 3 (30%) said it would make no difference to their vote.

Republicans (76%), white residents (52%), and 50- to 64-year-olds (57%) 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.

Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, said the numbers make the issue a challenge for candidates.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

The 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. 13-23. The full sample has a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points.