Washington

Elon Musk Loses Luster With the Left Amid His GOP Flirtations

59% of Democratic voters view the multibillionaire Tesla CEO unfavorably, up from 37% in April

Then-President Donald Trump acknowledges SpaceX founder Elon Musk, right, after the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket in Cape Canaveral, Florida, in May 2020. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Elon Musk has become an increasingly polarizing figure in recent months, with his popularity taking a particular tumble among Democratic voters as he has criticized the party, overseen a controversial effort to take over Twitter Inc. and faced an allegation of sexual misconduct. 

What Americans think about Elon Musk
  • According to a June 17-20 Morning Consult survey, 40% of voters now view Musk favorably, down 5 percentage points since an April 15-17 survey, while an identical share view him unfavorably, up 13 points over the same period. 
  • The public’s recent souring on Musk comes after surveys conducted in November, February and April found views about the Tesla Inc. and SpaceX chief executive were mostly static.
  • While negative views of the multibillionaire have increased across the political spectrum, the swing has been most dramatic among Democratic voters, 59% of whom now view him unfavorably, compared with 37% two months ago.
What’s driving voters’ views about Musk

The shift in public sentiment has been driven at least partly by increased awareness of Musk across the board — but in particular among Democrats — as he’s expressed more contentious political positions over the past two months.

The bipartisan campaign donor and self-described voter for President Joe Biden recently noted on Twitter that he voted for a Republican for the first time in his life. Musk has also signaled his support for a 2024 presidential bid by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.). He’s done it all while saying he would reverse Twitter’s permanent ban on former President Donald Trump if his purchase of the platform goes through, leaning into conservative claims about “Big Tech” censorship. 

While Democrats have soured on him, Musk’s flirtation with Trump’s party has been especially salient among Republicans. The latest survey found 48% of GOP voters said they had seen, read or heard at least something about his statement that he recently voted for a Republican for the first time in his life, compared to 36% of Democrats.

Democrats, though, were more likely than their peers on the other side of the aisle to say last month they’d heard something about an allegation that he exposed himself to a SpaceX employee and offered to buy her a horse in exchange for a sexual act, 41% to 27%. (Musk has denied the allegation’s veracity.)

The two parties appear to be rewarding him accordingly. On the left, Musk is almost as unpopular as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), while on the right, his popularity roughly matches that of former Vice President Mike Pence. 

The latest Morning Consult/Politico survey was conducted June 17-20, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,004 registered U.S. voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated McCarthy’s party affiliation. He is a Republican.

Morning Consult