Majority opposition to a government backed bailout of the Big Three automakers appears to be settled. After three rounds of proposals, 55 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said they oppose a $14 billion loan plan for the troubled industry, about the same proportion as opposed requests for $25 and $34 billion in previous polling.
And automakers' pleas have not convinced most Americans that the bad economy is the source of their financial trouble, nor have they successfully argued that a bankruptcy filing from Detroit would deepen the nation's economic woes.
Two central dividing lines are apparent from the crosstabs on these questions: partisanship and region. Democrats, Midwesterners and Northeasterners are more likely to support a cash infusion for Detroit (though tepidly, at best), while residents of the South and West, Republicans and independents tilt against the proposed aid package. Here's how those groups split in the new poll.
Q. The federal government is considering loaning up to 14 billion dollars to the Big Three U.S. automakers and putting in place a government board to oversee their restructuring. Some people say it's a bailout those companies don't deserve, and that they'd be better off reorganizing under bankruptcy laws. Other people say it's necessary to protect auto workers and save a key part of the U.S. economy. On balance, do you support or oppose this plan?
Support Oppose All 42 55 Democrat 52 45 Independent 41 57 Republican 29 69 Northeast 48 49 Midwest 49 49 South 39 59 West 35 60
Q. Do you think the automakers' problems are mainly the fault of the bad economy or mainly the fault of their own management?
Economy Management All 22 75 Democrat 25 72 Independent 23 75 Republican 16 81 Northeast 18 81 Midwest 26 71 South 23 74 West 21 77
Q. Say the loan plan is not approved and one or more of the automakers has to go under protection of bankruptcy laws while they try to restructure themselves. Do you think that would be good for the economy, bad for the economy, or would not make much difference either way?
No Good Difference Bad All 17 43 36 Democrat 16 36 42 Independent 18 46 34 Republican 17 47 33 Northeast 12 45 38 Midwest 18 34 44 South 19 47 30 West 16 42 37