Even Blue-State Voters Oppose a Ban On New Gas-Powered Cars, Poll Shows

Nearly 60 percent of New Jersey voters oppose Governor Phil Murphy's EV mandate

Phil Murphy (Getty Images)
September 12, 2023

A strong majority of voters in blue New Jersey, including nearly 60 percent of independents and more than 40 percent of Democrats, oppose liberal governor Phil Murphy’s plan to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035, a new poll shows.

The Public Opinion Strategies poll, conducted in August, found that 58 percent of New Jersey voters oppose Murphy's proposed environmental rules, which would force vehicle manufacturers to make 100 percent of their passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs electric by 2035. That figure includes 58 percent of independents and 42 percent of Democrats. In total, 36 percent of the state's voters say they "strongly" oppose Murphy's proposal, compared with just 33 percent who support it.

The poll comes as prominent Democrats advance plans at both the federal and state levels to ensure electric vehicle adoption. President Joe Biden's Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have both proposed rules that require automakers to ensure two-thirds of the vehicles they sell are electric by 2032. Some blue states, however, are pushing harsher mandates—in addition to New Jersey, California last year approved a measure that bans the sale of new gas-powered cars in the state by 2035.

Murphy, whose office did not return a request for comment, unveiled an identical proposal in July as part of his "Energy Master Plan," saying the move delivers on his "promise to utilize every tool at our disposal to combat the intensifying climate crisis." During his first gubernatorial campaign in 2017, the Democrat told former California governor Jerry Brown that he aspires to make New Jersey "the California of the East Coast."

The unpopularity of Murphy's proposal could impact his party come November, when the entirety of the state's General Assembly seats are up for grabs. Fifty percent of New Jersey voters say they are less likely to vote for a state legislator who supports Murphy's electric vehicle mandate, compared with just 28 percent who say they are more likely, according to the poll.

Murphy's electric vehicle proposal is not the only source of green energy controversy in New Jersey. The Democrat also signed a bill providing up to $1 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies to attract a foreign company, Orsted, to build a wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City. Less than two months after Murphy approved the subsidies, Orsted in September announced it may need to scrap its U.S. projects due to supply chain problems and other issues, which the company says may cause it to take a $2.3 billion hit to its American portfolio.

"We are willing to walk away from projects if we do not see value creation that meets our criteria," the company's chief executive said on a call.

Beyond New Jersey, American consumers are yet to embrace electric cars, despite billions of dollars in spending from Biden to spur their adoption. Less than one-fifth of Americans say they're very likely to make their next vehicle an electric one, according to an Associated Press poll published in April, with most citing the high costs associated with the vehicles. New Jerseyans who took the Public Opinion Strategies poll cited similar concerns.

"It is unfair to create regulations that would create financial stress for thousands of people," one respondent said. "People spend four hundred dollars on cars that barely work just to get their children to school. This would really impact thousands of people negatively."