Power play: How EVs are driving voters to the polls for Biden and Trump in swing states

The Biden administration has set new federal standards for cutting emissions, creating tax credits and subsidies for electric vehicles, and investing billions in swing states to boost EV manufacturing. Former President Donald Trump is taking a different approach to the technology.

Trump is raising concerns that the EV push will boost manufacturing for Chinese companies and kill manufacturing jobs in the United States. And the two messages could drive voters to the polls, one way or another.

The Biden administration planned to overhaul production lines and have 67% of all vehicles manufactured be electric by 2032, but now the administration has cut the target to roughly half of that after dealing with pushback from automobile manufacturers. A Pew Research Center survey from last year found that 59% of the U.S. had opposed phasing out gasoline vehicles by 2035, an 8% increase since 2021. 

A Gallup poll from last month revealed that only 7% of the country said they owned electric vehicles, and 35% said they would consider buying electric vehicles, down by 8% compared to one year ago. 

Meanwhile in Michigan, known as a hub for the American automotive industry, a statewide poll found 46% of voters supported the transition to electric vehicles, while 44% opposed it. Voters in the Detroit metro area, home to the big three automakers, were in favor of the shift by 20 points. 

Michigan accounted for 21% of U.S. auto manufacturing in 2022, and it employs 176,000 workers, a third of what its workforce was in its heyday.

At a rally in Grand Rapids last week, Trump said the move toward electric vehicles would lead to a “bloodbath” for the American economy and predicted the move would lead to a boom for Chinese and Mexican auto manufacturers. Last week, Tesla reportedly axed its development of a line of affordable electric cars. The decision comes as Chinese manufacturer BYD sales have soared from $130,000 to more than $1.5 million. BYD’s vehicles were sold at $10,000, $15,000 below the Tesla’s proposed Model 2 price. 

However, since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, Michigan saw a 22% job growth in clean transportation. The state has secured $16.6 billion on projects creating 16,300 jobs building batteries and electric vehicles and automobile manufacturers in the state have embraced the shift toward developing electric vehicles.

In January of last year, Ford Motor Company announced a $3.5 billion investment for a new EV battery manufacturing facility, creating 2,500 jobs. Biden is hoping that voters remember the job growth in electric vehicles under the Inflation Reduction Act come election time.

Support and rejection of electric calls have tended to fall along party lines, with Democrats pumping up efforts to transition to the new technology and Republicans voicing skepticism and concern the country’s electrical grid and infrastructure are not ready for the seismic shift.

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However, Michigan GOP state Sen. Ed McBroom said the gripe wasn’t with electric cars but instead with the Biden administration’s hopes to phase them out too quickly. 

“From the folks that I talked to and interacted with, there continues to be a very high degree of doubt about the sustainability of electric vehicles’ taking over our transportation system in the near future,” he told NBC News. 

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