Americans prefer low-emissions vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
February 10, 2022, 11:06 PM GMT+0

More Americans want government agencies to go shopping for new vehicles with low emissions, rather than low cost, in mind — a choice now facing the U.S. Postal Service. What people would prioritize for vehicle purchases is divided starkly by political party.

The U.S. Postal Service is scheduled to spend billions of dollars on a new fleet of gas-powered delivery trucks. Of the roughly 165,000 trucks they plan to purchase, only an estimated 10% will be electric. The White House and the Environmental Protection Agency have urged the Postal Service, which is currently led by Trump appointee Louis DeJoy, to reconsider the purchase of gas vehicles. Biden’s Build Back Better package would provide additional USPS funding, originally intended to increase the share of electric vehicles. The package remains stalled in Congress.

We asked Americans whether government agencies for services such as mail delivery should generally buy vehicles that are the cheapest, or those that have the lowest emissions. Americans tended to say that low emissions should be prioritized over cost (by 46% to 26%). Democrats (62%) and Independents (49%) were more likely than Republicans (27%) to say that it’s more important to buy vehicles that have low emissions rather than ones that cost less. Men were twice as likely as women to say the government should prioritize cost over emissions (34% to 17%).

When asked, Postmaster DeJoy blamed the lack of electric vehicles on the agency’s funding woes. House and Senate Democrats have moved quickly in response, and on Tuesday, the House approved the largest funding overhaul the Postal Service will have seen in nearly two decades. A companion bill has bipartisan support in the Senate, signaling its likely passage. The Postal Service last came under scrutiny during the 2020 election, when concerns arose over its ability to deliver mail-in ballots amid COVID-19. At the time, a Yahoo News/YouGov poll showed that about two-thirds of Americans thought the USPS should be provided with enough funding to ensure there were no delays in mail delivery during the election.

We also asked Americans what they think about the current state of funding for the Postal Service: 39% say it is underfunded, a 13-percentage-point drop from August 2020, when YouGov asked a nearly identical question. Two in 10 say it is appropriately funded (a similar amount as in 2020), and 15% say it is overfunded (slightly more than 11% in 2020). Most of the shift has been among Democrats and Independents, rather than Republicans. A little over half of Democrats now say it is underfunded compared to 69% in 2020, and 41% of Independents now say it is underfunded, compared to 53% in 2020.

See the crosstabs from this YouGov Poll:

Methodology: This Daily Agenda survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 5,382 U.S. adults interviewed online on February 9 - 10, 2022. The samples were weighted to be representative of the U.S. population, based on gender, age, race, education, U.S. census region, and political party.

Image: Getty

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