WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that six in 10 Americans oppose using taxpayer money to help the ailing major U.S. auto companies.
Sixty-one percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday are dead set against the federal government providing billions of dollars in assistance to the automakers, while 36 percent favor such a bailout.
The poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, also indicates that a majority of Americans, 53 percent, don't think government assistance for the automakers would help the U.S. economy.
"Only 15 percent say that they would be immediately affected if the auto companies went bankrupt," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Seven in 10 say that a bailout would be unfair to American taxpayers."
In early November, polls indicated that nearly half the public supported federal assistance to the big automakers when the issue first came before Congress. But evidence in surveys from other organizations suggested that the poor performance by executives from GM, Ford and Chrysler at congressional hearings, and the admission that they had flown in private jets to get there, resulted in a steep drop in support for the aid.
The new CNN poll indicates that those wounds have yet to heal.
"This indicates that the upcoming do-over that the auto executives will get in another round of congressional hearings may be crucial to swaying the public and getting the assistance package passed through Congress," Holland said.
Ford, GM and Chrysler on Tuesday presented details of their recovery plans to Congress, and the top executives of the companies are to appear before congressional panels Thursday and Friday.
Opposition to the bailout of the auto industry is widespread across the country, even in the Midwest, where the domestic automakers have their headquarters and many of their assembly plants. The poll indicates that most opposition to the bailout comes from the West, where it reaches 67 percent.
Sixty-one percent of those polled in the Northeast, 64 percent in the South, and 53 percent in the Midwest oppose using federal dollars to help the automakes.
The poll also suggests that a vast majority of Republicans, 70 percent, oppose the bailout. Sixty-two percent of independents and 55 percent of Democrats in the poll also said they oppose it.
The auto companies say that if they don't receive government assistance, they could go into bankruptcy. If that happens, only 15 percent of those polled said they think they would be immediately affected, with another 19 percent saying they would feel the impact within a year or so. Forty-three percent said they would eventually feel an effect from such a bankruptcy, and 24 percent said they would never feel the impact.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted by phone, with 1,096 adult Americans questioned. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.