Music, Cars, and the 2004 Election

by Jeffrey M. Jones and Joseph Carroll

In recent weeks, Gallup has analyzed how key voting groups intend to vote in the presidential election. We've looked at Catholics, married versus non-married Americans, young adults, and veterans, just to name a few. Now, on Election Day, it is time for a look at some interesting, obscure, irreverent, and probably not overly meaningful differences in voting patterns found in our recent pre-election polls. 

Vote by Car Ownership

The Oct. 22-24 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll asked the public what type of car, if any, they drove most often. The majority of registered voters in the poll, 53%, say they drive sedans, while 15% drive sport utility vehicles (SUVs), 15% drive trucks, 10% drive minivans, and 2% drive station wagons*. Sixty-four percent of registered voters drive domestic cars and 30% drive foreign models (6% do not drive). The vast majority of foreign cars are Asian brands such as Honda or Toyota; only 5% of registered voters own European cars such as Volkswagen or Saab. 

There are several differences in candidate support based on the type of cars Americans drive. Bush has a lead among minivan, SUV, and truck drivers, as well as those who drive domestic cars. Kerry leads among sedan drivers and foreign car drivers, as well as owners of "high-end" brands.

  • Among registered voters who drive sedans, 51% prefer Kerry and 44% prefer Bush.
  • Sixty percent of registered voters who drive minivans or vans plan to vote for Bush, while 35% plan to support Kerry. 
  • Bush leads 56% to 41% among SUV drivers.
  • Bush has a 56% to 40% edge among truck owners. 
  • Fifty-three percent of domestic car owners support Bush, while 41% support Kerry. 
  • Among foreign car owners, 55% support Kerry and 43% Bush. 
  • Those who own "high-end" brand cars, such as Lexus, Jaguar, BMW, and Cadillac, support Kerry by a 53% to 43% margin. Those who drive moderate and low-priced brand cars tend to support Bush. 

Car ownership alone likely does not influence one's vote choice. Rather, the relationships observed here probably result from some demographic characteristics that are related to the vote also being related to car choices. For example, residents of the East and West are much more likely than those in the Midwest and South to own foreign cars and also to support Kerry. Those who live in rural areas are most likely to own domestic cars and to support Bush.

There are differences in car preference by political ideology -- conservatives are more likely to drive domestic cars, while liberals are more likely to drive foreign cars, particularly Asian cars. And conservatives overwhelmingly support Bush, while liberals strongly support Kerry.      

Married persons are more likely to drive minivans, SUVs, and trucks, and as discussed previously in other analyses (see "Marriage Gap Persists in 2004 Vote" in Related Items), married people are much more likely to support Bush than Kerry. Meanwhile, unmarried people are more likely to drive sedans, and also to support Kerry.

Music Preference and the Vote for President

The poll also asked Americans to choose their favorite type of music from among five different musical styles -- rock 'n' roll, pop, country, hip-hop or R&B, and classical. The results show that 27% of registered voters say rock 'n roll is their favorite type of music, while 23% say country music, 18% say classical, 11% say R&B or hip-hop, and 11% say pop. Ten percent of voters selected some other genre of music as their favorite.

Do musical preferences have an impact on this year's vote for president?  To some extent, the answer is yes. 

While it is not possible to estimate the percentage of the vote for each candidate by the fans of the different music types because of small sample sizes, the relationships are apparent when looking at the preferred music types of Bush and Kerry supporters. 

  • The poll results show that twice as many Bush voters (30%) as Kerry voters (15%) prefer country music.
  • Nearly one in five registered Kerry supporters (19%) listen to R&B or hip-hop music, while only 4% of Bush supporters prefer this type of music. 
  • Roughly equal proportions of Bush and Kerry supporters listen to rock 'n' roll, pop, or classical music.

Again, the differences in Bush and Kerry supporters' music tastes is probably due to other factors' relationships to the vote. The large difference in preference for R&B and hip-hop owes to the fact that nonwhites are most likely to prefer this type of music, and nonwhites overwhelmingly support Kerry. Country music is preferred by rural voters, who tend to be conservative and Republican.

So as voters head to the polls to cast their ballots, it is more likely that a Bush voter will arrive at his or her local polling place in a domestic truck or van listening to country music, while a Kerry supporter will arrive in a foreign sedan listening to R&B. 

*Based on interviews with 1,461 registered voters, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 22-24, 2004. For results based on this sample the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. 

For the sample of 775 registered voters who drive a sedan, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

For the sample of 144 registered voters who drive a minivan or van, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±9 percentage points.

For the sample of 246 registered voters who drive a sport utility vehicle, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points.

For the sample of 199 registered voters who drive a truck, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±8 percentage points.

For the sample of 924 registered voters who drive a domestic vehicle, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

For the sample of 464 registered voters who drive a foreign brand vehicle, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

Based on interviews with 739 registered voters, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 22-24, 2004. For results based on this sample the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 points. 

For the sample of 373 registered voters who support Bush, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 points.

For the sample of 331 registered voters who support Kerry, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 points.
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