EV Cars

When did Republicans turn against electric vehicles and will the tide turn?

Electric car bashing has become a regular position and talking point for Republicans, but it wasn’t always that way.

In one current InsideEVs article, Detroit-based Republican and campaign consultant Mike Murphy discussed the results of a survey of 600 voters on electric vehicles. As with many other current political issues, it highlights a deep partisan divide, in this case among Republicans, who are vehemently opposed to electric vehicles.

There are some predictable reasons for this, as Murphy notes. Electric vehicles are still closely tied to climate change policy, so Republican views of them are colored by a general hostility to the concept of climate change itself.

2023 GMC Hummer EV Pickup

2023 GMC Hummer EV Pickup

As Green Car Reports has explained many times, electric vehicles once existed as a potential that represented energy independence and the smart use of innovation, both of which appealed to fiscal conservatives.

Surveys only showed this in 2019 Electric vehicles weren’t really that polarizingand several surveys since then have still shown bipartisan support among Americans for policies that support electric vehicle adoption. However, the elected officials who represent them have suggested otherwise.

Anti-EV rhetoric began gaining traction in the Republican Party more than a decade ago. In a 2012 presidential debate, Mitt Romney called Tesla a “loser” companyThis means that electric vehicle manufacturers could not survive without government support. Tesla proved that wrong, and it was not a position that the GOP party members at the base stood behind. But later in the decade Trump’s mockery of electric vehicles became a constant topic of conversation and fodder.

When did Republicans turn so strongly against electric vehicles? GCR asked Murphy.

President Bush 2007

President Bush 2007

“I think this is all part of the tribalism that has eaten away at our politics,” he told Green Car Reports this week. “The moment Democrats began to define themselves politically as the green energy party, there was an increasingly knee-jerk reaction from Republicans: ‘If they’re for this stuff, we’re against it.'”

“Now electric vehicles, originally sold by the industry as an environmental statement, have been caught up in all this, and in the Trump era the entire feedback loop has been strengthened,” he added. “Now electric vehicles are no longer seen as just vehicles by many GOP faithful, but as surrogate mobiles of Biden and the Democrats.”

President Joe Biden with the 2022 GMC Hummer EV

President Joe Biden with the 2022 GMC Hummer EV

Electric vehicles aren’t the only ones receiving government funding in hopes of promoting energy independence. Like Murphy in charging status In GCR alumnus and charging expert Tom Moloughney’s podcast (see below for the full episode), the ethanol industry has also received significant government support well beyond support for electric vehicles, with some Republicans having no problem getting behind it. But all spending under Biden probably didn’t help the situation with Republican voters.

However, it is puzzling why Republicans in the Battery Belt in the southeastern states did this attempt to block EV mandates that bring manufacturing jobs to their region. The introduction of electric vehicles is now underway increasing state polarization— due in part to a series of policy decisions by Republican lawmakers.

Even if everything seems hopeless, Murphy pointed out that some of the old pragmatic conservative values ​​may remain hidden behind all the toxic talk. When 18 Republican state governors penned a letter last year aligning with auto dealers to protest Biden’s electric car goals, neither Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp nor Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee were involved . Biden’s electric car policies have been a boon for jobs and the economy in these states, and this may be the best hope that the tide will turn.

Kia electric vehicle manufacturing in Georgia

Kia electric vehicle manufacturing in Georgia

While Republican politicians complain about policies, there continue to be signs that their electorate is not so decidedly negative toward them. In Murphy’s poll, 27% of Democrats rated the “government rebate” as the top or second-best reason to buy or lease an electric vehicle. For Republicans it was 24%.

“Republicans are almost as excited about a check to subsidize electric vehicles as Democrats are,” Murphy concluded.

with reports by Stephen Edelstein and Bengt Halvorson

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