Polls: Americans split over auto bailout support
A car is manufactured on the assembly line at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
February 24th, 2012
11:09 AM ET
2 years ago

Polls: Americans split over auto bailout support

(CNN) - As Mitt Romney gets ready to face union protests Friday over his opposition to the 2008-2009 bailouts of the auto industry, two new polls are somewhat at odds over where Americans stand on the issue.

According to a Gallup poll released Wednesday, 51% of Americans say they disapprove of the financial bailouts for General Motors and Chrysler, which at the time were in danger of failing. Forty-four percent say they approve of the government's action. The survey indicates a partisan divide, with more than six in ten Democrats supporting the bailouts, nearly three-quarters of Republicans opposing them, and independent voters divided, with 45% approving and 50% saying they disapprove of the bailouts.

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A new poll from the Pew Research Center asks a different question and gets a different answer. According to the survey, 56% of Americans say the federal government's assistance to the auto makers was mostly good for the economy, with 38% saying they were mostly bad for the country's economy. Those numbers were reversed when Pew asked the same question in October 2009.

According to the Pew poll, more than seven in ten Democrats say the loans were a good thing, with independents agreeing by a 54% to 40% margin, and Republicans saying by a 52% to 44% margin that the bailouts were bad for the economy.

Romney advocated a managed bankruptcy for the auto industry in 2008, before the Michigan-based auto companies received federal financing as part of a bankruptcy process. He is frequently criticized by Democrats for the stance but has said the companies should have addressed the problems on their own instead of receiving federal aid to whether the economic downturn.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted between February 8 and February 12, with 1,501 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

The Gallup Poll was conducted between February 20 and February 21, with 1,040 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

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Filed under: 2012 • Auto Bailout • Mitt Romney • Polls
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    I don't like the fact we needed the bailouts to try to keep the economy afloat, but I understand the need of it. During the Great Depression, the government didn't bailout the banks and people were in dire straits for 10 years or more.

    What I DON'T like is the fact that the bailout money was mishandled and skimmed off by the company management. Some of the money was used for corporate retreats and vacations and little perks instead of keeping the company afloat. The boards and chairpeople who were responsible for bankrupting the companies didn't get pay cuts and some of them still had their golden parachutes. The bailout rules should have included that every member of the board was to take a 75% paycut, no golden parachutes, no perks. Use the money to keep the company going.

    February 24, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. Nothing new here

    I have been a fan of vintage/classic American cars for years. I have read up on the history of Ford, Chevrolet and other independent automobile manufacturers, some that go back to the early 1900's.
    I believe, a combination of GREED, power struggles (like the Tucker incident), corrupt corporate officials and corrupt union bosses helped bring this once great American manufacturing systems down.
    Even though I have mixed feeling about the bail-out, I don't think this crisis should have happened in the first place.
    Americans should be proud to drive AMERICAN cars. The thing is that WE the people need to take this country back from greedy, power-hungry people that disrespect OUR civil liberties and our ability to work for the American dream.

    February 24, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. Robert Jay

    Wonder how those intellectuals who either up front or with 20/20 hindsight say they were / are opposed to the bail out would like it if their carrers / liveleyhoods and futures went down the toilet because they don't like the bail outs – remember to your savior (George Bush) initiated the bail outs – so why not vent your opinions about how wall street speculation and incessant greed is yet today STILL raping this country daily while Americans starve, grow up illiterate, and don't have propoer medical care – this just proves that at least 51% of the American population are idelogical morons and just plain STUPID! – by the way isn't 51% the number of idiots that elected Bush anyway???

    February 24, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Unfortunately, Mitt Romney has misleadingly convinced people that the massive loans were available from the private sector, which they were not. The auto makers were in need of operating capital, and Wall Street was too bruised to loan tens of billions of dollars. Which is why the auto makers turned to the government in the first place. Without operating capital, they would have eventually been forced to one day simply shut everything down, laying everyone off. Their assets would have been sold by a bankruptcy liquidation auction to the highest bidder. Their bankruptcies would not have been structured ones, where assets are sold to and through private channels.

    February 24, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  5. Woman In California

    Results are all that matter. The auto industry was SAVED along with thousands of jobs. Nothing more needs to be said.

    February 24, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  6. beevee

    This is clearly a phony poll and means nothing. Just ask the people who work of the auto industry and have lost their jobs whether the bailout saved the industry and thousnads of jobs related to it. Don't ask the opinion of those who don't care or are conservatives. That would be meaningless except to boost the panderer Romney.

    February 24, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  7. dr

    Do they remember that there was/is another appendage to this industry. Had it failed not just hundreds of thousands of more jobs would have been lost, but millions. There are many different industries that depend on a healthy auto industry. A failed auto industry would have tanked the economy for good! I'm not big on unions, but I'm not a republican anymore either. The GOP and all of the Fox news cronies have done nothing but drag this country down even further. Anything to get Obama out of office!

    February 24, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. Fair is Fair

    The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    I don't like the fact we needed the bailouts to try to keep the economy afloat, but I understand the need of it. During the Great Depression, the government didn't bailout the banks and people were in dire straits for 10 years or more.
    --------–
    The difference, though, is that there was this thing called the FDIC created as a result – funded by the banking industry, NOT the federal government – to prevent that from ever occurring again. What steps has the auto industry taken to prevent them from requiring another bailout if (when) things go sour again?

    February 24, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. Sniffit

    Split? Uh oh...you know what that means, don't you? It means Mittens will try to simultaneously take both sides of the issue...oh wait....he already is trying to do that....

    February 24, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. SA in OO

    Opinion polls are just that – opinions. And with current the anti-intellectual bent of the true "believers" in the Republican party, polls like this shed no light on whether it really was a good idea to "bail out" the auto industry. Just the fact that these articles use the phrase "bail out" is itself a loaded term and an indication of how the right has reinforced the prejudices of the respondents.

    So why do journalists continue to rely so heavily on these opinion polls. Because they are really not journalists. They are too lazy to do the hard work of trying to actually research, think through and comment on whether the now repaid loans to the auto industry actually were good for the country.

    February 24, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. logicnLA

    This is going to be a matter of how the poll was asked -again. I am often called and the choices are never really good ecept whenits a straight who are you voting for type question. They ask conveluted quesitons and think they know what we are thinking.

    February 24, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. Bill

    Bootom line, if Obama had not stepped in, over 3 million jobs may have been lost and our auto manufacturing days may have been finished. If not finished, reduced to an insignificant player in the field.

    February 24, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. InCal

    Do't those negative opinions about the bailout see the outcome of the bailout or they are just too stupid to think or too much envy?

    February 24, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. Claudia, Phoenix, AZ

    When you have your American dollars invested abroad, who cares what happens to the auto industry and it's employees, Republicans don't.

    February 24, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. Darrell

    Then one can safely assumed that the people who did not/sill don't believe in the auto bailout believe in the tooth fairy.

    February 24, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  16. Sniffit

    "The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    I don't like the fact we needed the bailouts to try to keep the economy afloat, but I understand the need of it. During the Great Depression, the government didn't bailout the banks and people were in dire straits for 10 years or more.
    --––
    The difference, though, is that there was this thing called the FDIC created as a result – funded by the banking industry, NOT the federal government – to prevent that from ever occurring again. What steps has the auto industry taken to prevent them from requiring another bailout if (when) things go sour again?"

    A whole pantload of steps that Obama made pre-requisites for receiving the federal government's assistance. Why don't you take the time to go Google them and inform yourself. Hint: try using the word "restructuring" in your search.

    February 24, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    The difference, though, is that there was this thing called the FDIC created as a result – funded by the banking industry, NOT the federal government – to prevent that from ever occurring again. What steps has the auto industry taken to prevent them from requiring another bailout if (when) things go sour again?
    -----------------–
    The FDIC is backed by the Federal Reserve, which backs *all* banks, both large and small. The FDIC does not protect banks, it protects the depositers up to a certain amount. Bailout is the Fed's sole purpose for existence. It was created by big bankers and politicians to protect the big bankers, and their political minions. As long as it exists, we will always have another bailout someday. Ron Paul knows this. That's why he wants to get rid of it.

    What have the auto makers done to prevent another bailout? They aquiesced and submitted to a structured bankruptcy that granted the government the authority to drain their upper management swamps of people who were a waste of a too good paycheck. Have you seen the most recent sales figures from both GM and Chrysler? It worked. Ford opted out.

    February 24, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. Fair is Fair

    "A whole pantload of steps that Obama made pre-requisites for receiving the federal government's assistance. Why don't you take the time to go Google them and inform yourself. Hint: try using the word "restructuring" in your search."
    -----
    Well, well... if it isn't our resident counselor popping in after a brief hiatus. Busy time in land court?

    So Obama's "prerequisites" are going to prevent the auto industry from ever needing a bailout again, you say? Or will they just nationalize the industry if it happens again?

    February 24, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    You did not bother to do the search, Fair: why is that? Afraid you will find something that does not confirm to your carefully crafted narrative?

    February 24, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. Fair is Fair

    Rudy,hits us with the following word salad of misinformation:

    "The FDIC is backed by the Federal Reserve, which backs *all* banks, both large and small. The FDIC does not protect banks, it protects the depositers up to a certain amount. Bailout is the Fed's sole purpose for existence. It was created by big bankers and politicians to protect the big bankers, and their political minions."
    ---------–
    Wrong again, Ruuuuuu-Deeeeeee... from their website:

    "The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is an independent agency created by the Congress to maintain stability and public confidence in the nation's financial system by:

    •insuring deposits,
    •examining and supervising financial institutions for safety and soundness and consumer protection, and
    •managing receiverships.

    NOTHING to do with the Federal Reserve, Rudy. NOTHING. Once again, though, don't let facts get in the way of your opinions.

    February 24, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    InCal

    Do't those negative opinions about the bailout see the outcome of the bailout or they are just too stupid to think or too much envy
    ------------------------
    Both plus a healthy dosage of having their Clown/Flavor of the Moment feed them their posting lines.

    February 24, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  22. The Real Tom Paine

    Fair, everything in this country hinges on the banking industry, which is why there is no equivilent to the FDIC on the auto industry. Your comment also flies in the face of verything you usually post, which is screaming about over-regulation: are you actually endorsing a government watchdog for the auto industry, or is this another example of your poorly-prepared, knee-jerk responses to questions?

    February 24, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. Phil in KC

    How can people be against the bailouts when it is a proven success? The money was paid back. The automakers are successful again. Thousands upon thousands of jobs were saved – not only those directly employed by the manufacturers themselves, but by the myriad of suppliers, dealers, etc. And additional jobs are being added. The important think to remember is that the money that goes to GM and Ford stays here in this country. (Chrysler, unfortunately, is now an arm of FIAT, so those profits now go back to Italy.) Had we let them fail, there would be no domestic auto production and all that money would be leaving the country increasing our balance of trade deficit.
    Anyone who opposes this is so stuck on their political dogma, they can't see reality.

    February 24, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. diridi

    What split? BS. If had we not bailed out Auto, Entire the Nation would have collapsed like a hot potato...Obama, we LOVE you....you saved this nation. Bring troops from Afghanistan.
    PS: Nationalize all of the Oil-Companies., price drops like crazy. This price raise is Republican thugs drama...that's it.

    February 24, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  25. The Elephant In The Room

    Look, face it all you psuedo-capitalist Republicans . . . you are full of it.

    I don`t know that I heard any of you clamoring to let the Wall St banks go under when they were in trouble. Depositor funds would have been safe via FDIC & SPIC so bailouts WERE NOT NEEDED to lookout for John Q. Citizen.

    What happened is we lost a "teachable moment" to show all the reckless ["businesmen"] gamblers that there is a downside and they through risky bets, they could lose their personal cushy standing in life. America would be so much better off if hoards of Ivestment bankers had been fired and had to be re-hired [at lower wages] by the surviving financial firms.

    If the Republicans REALLY believed in "FREE MARKET CAPITALISM" they`d have been calling for this outcome. Instead, they advocated privitizing profits and socializing losses. That`s another way to say WEALTH RE-DISTRIBUTION.

    February 24, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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