This from an unpublished/draft paper, but I'm quoting it anyway because it seems to be one of the few actual surveys on why [some] voters actually oppose such a measure, in France at least:
their perception about the properties of the tax are largely biased: people overestimate the negative impact on their purchasing power, wrongly think the scheme is regressive, and do not perceive it as environmentally effective
I'll also note from a published paper that while o.m's answer is correct... it is indeed difficult to pass such carbon taxes:
carbon taxes are one of the least used climate policy instruments. In 2016, 18 countries and two Canadian provinces have implemented a carbon tax, with Chile set to do so in 2018 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2016; Farid et al., 2016; World Bank, 2016). In comparison, 176 countries had policy targets for renewable energy and/or energy efficiency, and 110 national and subnational jurisdictions had a feed‐in tariff (REN21, 2017). Carbon tax proposals have been undone, sometimes at an advanced political stage, for example in Australia (in 2014), France (in 2000), Switzerland (in 2000 and 2015), and most recently in the United States in Washington State (in 2016). In other contexts, policymakers may have simply refrained from including carbon taxes in their agenda. The underutilization of carbon taxes is striking and potentially a concern.
The same paper suggest that lobbying has been effective in styming such carbon taxes (giving Australia as example) and quotes some comparative acceptability figures for the US:
Different quantitative and qualitative studies show people's preference for low‐carbon subsidies over taxes (Cherry, Kallbekken, & Kroll, 2012; de Groot & Schuitema's, 2012; Kallbekken & Aasen, 2010; Steg, Dreijerink, & Abrahamse, 2006). A survey on American citizens by Leiserowitz, Maibach, Roser‐Renouf, Feinberg, and Rosenthal (2013) found that while 71% of the American public support tax rebates for energy‐efficient vehicles or solar panels, only 43% would support a carbon tax, even if assumed to cost the average American household the relatively low amount of US$180 per year. That is, voters tend to prefer subsidies and tax rebates to carbon taxes. However, the evidence is more equivocal on regulation, and the extent to which it is preferred to carbon taxes [...]
However, the preference of subsidies over taxes is hardly unique to the US, nor is the overestimation of the personal costs of a carbon tax unique to France, and both may be rooted in more universal psychology issues:
There is a perception among voters that the personal costs of a tax would be too high. A Swedish survey by Jagers and Hammar (2009) found that people associate carbon taxes with higher personal costs, more than they do with alternative policy instruments. A discrete choice experiment by Alberini, Scasny, and Bigano (2016) showed that Italians had a preference, among climate policy instruments, for subsidies over carbon taxes. Participants in a lab experiment by Heres, Kallbekken, and Galarraga (2015) similarly expected higher payoffs from subsidies than from taxes, especially when there was uncertainty on how tax revenues would be “rebated.” Ex ante, individuals tend to overestimate the cost of an environmental tax, and underestimate its benefits (Carattini et al., 2018; Odeck & Bråthen, 2002; Schuitema, Steg, & Forward, 2010). They are also prone to ignore the indirect costs of subsidies, which will most likely be financed through either higher income taxes or higher electricity bills (Jagers & Hammar, 2009; Kallbekken & Aasen, 2010). The literature in social psychology also suggests that individuals prefer subsidies because they are perceived as less coercive than taxes. Taxes are “pushed” onto polluters, imposing a mandatory cost, while subsidies are seen as “pull” measures, which supposedly reward climate‐friendly behavior (de Groot & Schuitema, 2012; Rosentrater et al., 2012; Steg et al., 2006).
People are concerned about the wider economic impact of a carbon tax. This has been illustrated in Switzerland, where, in two different instances more than 10 years apart, concern about the potential competitiveness and employment effects of energy taxes contributed to their rejection in public ballots, even in the context of very limited unemployment (Carattini, Baranzini, Thalmann, Varone, & Vöhringer, 2017; Thalmann, 2004). While these concerns are partly justified, voters may tend to overestimate competitiveness and job effects. In the specific case of Thalmann (2004), for instance, virtually all respondents expressed concern for unemployment, despite there were no unemployed individuals in the sample and the population‐wide unemployment rate was, at the time in Switzerland, below 2%. Given that the proposals in the ballot were not especially disruptive, and given that most people in the sample were unlikely to be seriously exposed to unemployment risks, we consider this instance as a case of overreaction. Fears of competitiveness effects and job losses may also result from specific information campaigns led by energy‐intensive companies, as in the case of Australia (cf. Spash & Lo, 2012).
Also the French public expectation that carbon taxes are environmentally ineffective is shared more widely
Individuals do not see carbon taxes as an effective way to discourage high‐carbon behavior (Klok, Larsen, Dahl, & Hansen, 2006; Steg et al., 2006). They consider low‐carbon subsidies to be a more powerful way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially if the cost of switching from consuming high‐carbon goods to low‐carbon goods is considered high. Many voters believe that the price elasticity of demand for carbon‐intensive goods is close to zero. The expectation that carbon taxes do not work is one of the main reasons for their rejection by people in surveys and real ballots (Baranzini & Carattini, 2017; Carattini et al., 2017; Hsu, Walters, & Purgas, 2008; Kallbekken & Aasen, 2010; Kallbekken & Sælen, 2011).
Insert the obligatory quote that in politics perception is reality (or everything) and/or that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy...
The latter paper notes that (consequently) a gradual and/or trial introduction of carbon taxes should be pursued. That might be one of the reasons why Germany plans to introduce a low-rate carbon tax.