Americans Continue to Oppose GM, Chrysler Loans

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Fifty-nine percent disapprove of the loans the government has made

PRINCETON, NJ -- A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds that a majority of Americans disapprove of the loans made to General Motors and Chrysler late last year to help them avoid bankruptcy.


On Monday, the government rejected the automakers' own restructuring plans and imposed new deadlines and conditions for each to receive further government loans. That includes Chrysler's working out a partnership with Italian automaker Fiat, and General Motors' replacing its CEO and getting concessions from its unions and bondholders as part of more aggressive restructuring plans.

The new poll results, from a March 27-29 poll, are in line with what Gallup has found in earlier polling about government aid to two of the Big Three U.S. automakers.

In February, when asked about government aid to U.S. automakers in a general sense, just 41% of Americans favored the concept while 58% were opposed.

Gallup found even less public support when it asked about the specific GM and Chrysler requests for additional federal loans after they had submitted their restructuring plans to the government last month. At the time, only 25% of Americans believed Congress should approve these additional loans to GM and Chrysler, while 72% thought it should not do so.

In November 2008, when the automakers' plight was first gaining widespread national attention, Americans were somewhat more likely to favor government aid, but were still slightly more likely to oppose (49%) than to favor (47%) it.

Democrats One of Few Groups That Supports Loans

The new poll finds most key demographic or attitudinal subgroups within the U.S. population disapproving of the government loans made to GM and Chrysler last December to help them avoid bankruptcy. Democrats are a notable exception, as 57% approve, more than twice the level of Republicans, whose support is among the lowest. Independents' views are closer to those of Republicans.


Even though the Midwest is the traditional home to the U.S. auto industry, residents of that area of the country are no more likely to approve of the GM and Chrysler loans than are those living in other parts of the United States. Only 40% of Midwesterners approve, compared with 42% of those living in the East, 38% of Southern residents, and 39% of those residing in the West.


It is pretty well-established at this point that Americans oppose the idea of government assistance to the U.S. automakers. Over the next two months, Chrysler's and General Motors' fates will become clearer as they work to meet the government's guidelines for restructuring to receive further assistance. Without that assistance, there is a high probability that one or both will enter bankruptcy. Either outcome -- bankruptcy or successful restructuring -- does have the potential to shift Americans' views on federal aid for U.S. auto manufacturers.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,007 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted March 27-29, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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