New poll shows how Californians really feel about electric car mandate, Diablo Canyon extension

A majority of Californians support the recently enacted all-electric car mandate, according to a poll released Friday by the Berkeley Institute of Government Studies.

It shows 55% of California voters support the mandate, which was approved by the California Air Resources Board on Aug. 25, nearly two years after Gavin Newsom’s executive order. It also shows a small increase in support since the Board’s approval -- the Public Policy Institute of California published a report in July that showed 49% of voters supported it at the time.

The order requires 35% of new cars sold in the state be electric vehicles by 2026, and 100% by 2035.

Four in ten voters are opposed to the mandate, and the poll also shows a strong partisan divide: 77% of Democrats support it while 81% of Republicans are opposed.

About a week after the California Air Resources Board approved the order, the entire state of California experienced an unprecedented heat wave that put unprecedented strain on its electricity grid. The state asked owners of electric vehicles to limit the time they spent charging their cars, giving Republicans across the state an opening to criticize the order. But experts say electric vehicle charging won’t be a burden on the grid.

“The findings show how everyday issues, such as what type of car to drive, can become highly partisan in our contemporary, politically polarized reality,” said IGS C-Director G. Cristina Mora.

The poll also shows that a wide swath of California voters supports extending the life of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Among voters overall, extending the plant past its initial 2025 closure date is favored three to one, or 56% to 19%. A quarter of voters were undecided or didn’t have an opinion. The Legislature approved the plan last month in the final hours of the session.

Data also shows that Republicans and Democrats alike support the Diablo Canyon decisions, though it’s favored slightly more by conservatives.

The online poll was administered in both English and Spanish at the end of September. A total of 8,725 California registered voters participated. It was partially funded by The Los Angeles Times.

Steam is released from reactor No. 1 at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant at Avila Beach in a May 2000 file image. Steve Osman/Los Angeles Times/TNS
Steam is released from reactor No. 1 at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant at Avila Beach in a May 2000 file image. Steve Osman/Los Angeles Times/TNS