Americans’ attitudes toward electric vehicles, climate, and energy policy ahead of the 2024 presidential election

Most Americans report a willingness to pay a premium for an American-made electric vehicle over one made in China.

June 04, 2024

Americans continue to be open to purchasing electric vehicles, but are deterred by cost, range, charging capacity, and a lack of charging stations, according to a new survey from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Similar to 2023, about 6 in 10 Americans cite saving money on gas and vehicle maintenance as reasons to purchase an electric vehicle, along with reducing their personal impact on climate change.

And when given the option between a more expensive electric vehicle made in the United States and a less expensive electric vehicle made in China, the majority of Americans report they would purchase the American-made vehicle. This holds true if told that the American-made vehicle cost $500, $1,000, $2,000, or $5,000 more than the Chinese vehicle.

Similar to past years, majority of Americans believe that climate change is happening, and that it’s caused mostly or entirely by human activity. There continues to be a partisan divide, with 93% of Democrats believing that climate change is happening compared to the 62% of Republicans. And among those who do say it’s happening, 67% of Democrats and 34% of Republicans say that it’s caused mostly or entirely by humans. Adults who have experienced extreme weather in their communities in the past year are also more likely to believe in climate change.

Seventy-one percent of Americans say energy policy is at least one important factor in thinking about their vote for the next president in November, and 64% say the same about climate change. Eighty-four percent of Democrats rank climate change policy as an important factor to their vote in the 2024 presidential election compared with 43% of Republicans. When it comes to energy policy, majorities of both parties say it is an important factor to their vote, including 78% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans.

While most Americans are unwilling to pay a monthly carbon fee on their energy use, more than half say they would support a tax that companies would pay on the carbon they emit—including about three-quarters of Democrats, half of independents, and 40% of Republicans.

This attitude is reflected on who Americans believe should bear the responsibility for climate change.  Just 41% say individuals have a lot of responsibility, while corporations (62%) and the federal government (59%) bear the greatest responsibility.

This nationwide poll was conducted by The AP-NORC Center and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) from March 26 – April 10, 2024, using TrueNorth®, which combines a sample from AmeriSpeak, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago, with a non-probability panel sample. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 6,265 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 1.7 percentage points.

Expert Contacts

Emily Alvarez

Senior Research Scientist
Public Affairs and Media Research
(312) 802-5653

Michael Greenstone

Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics; Director, EPIC; Director, Becker Friedman Institute
Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago

Sam Ori

Executive Director