Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Which Americans Support / Oppose the Bailout?

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that the majority of Americans opposed the recent automaker bailout proposal. 55% of those polled opposed the plan while 42% supported it. The latest version of the automaker bailout - which would provide $14 billion of relief - is much more popular than the original $34 billion request.

Poll analysts say the reason the majority opposes the bailout is the perception that the Big 3 are responsible for their own dilemma, rather than the failing economy. 75% of Americans blame Detroit over the financial crisis.

Perhaps more significantly, 60% of those polled said it would "make no difference" or "would be good for the economy" if the American automakers filed for bankruptcy.

Where Is There Support?

The poll also charted the partisan differences in opinion regarding the bailout. 52% of Democrats support the bailout - up 10% from Detroit's original proposal. While 72% of them blame the business strategy the automakers took for their problems, 42% said that the economy would be hurt if the Big 3 failed.

The poll also found regional differences. While the South and West were generally opposed to the bailout, Americans in the Northeast and Midwest - where the manufacturing operations are more heavily based - were split evenly on the idea.

In fact, Midwest Democrats support the bailout by 56%, and Northeast Democrats support it with 61%.

Where Is There Opposition?

Independents continue to oppose the plan at previous margins with about 57% while 41% support it. But GOP opposition has grown stronger. 69% of Republicans now say they oppose the bailout - up 12% from the original proposal by Detroit executives. More than half of these conservatives "strongly oppose" the plan.

Meanwhile, Americans in the South and West oppose the bailout by roughly 60%.

Most surprisingly, union households only supported the bailout 44% to 42% - although those union workers and families were typically "very supportive" when they were supportive.

Can It Still Pass In Congress?

While the anxiety politicians might feel about Detroit collapsing is likely to grow, it would be a great mistake for Senators to now switch their vote. Any explanation would be softly heard by their constituents. Meanwhile, many Democrats recently elected in conservative districts - particularly in the South and West - will be unlikely to show any support in the New Year.

It is more likely that President Bush will try to make loans to the Big 3 with the $700 billion already allocated to the financial industry to loosen credit. When the new proposal comes to Congress, Republicans will likely demand that the cash-strapped automakers declare bankruptcy before the government can give them loans originally intended for the financial market.

Time will only tell - but time is running out. GM claims they will be completely out of resources by the end of the month. But perhaps bankruptcy will start to change opinion polls.

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