25 March 2009

60% Of Americans Say No More Money For GM, Chrysler

Originally Posted to Detroit Free Press

More than three in five Americans oppose more government loans to General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, according to an R.L. Polk survey released today that is consistent with other recent opinion research.

A clear majority – 61% — told the Southfield-based auto research firm they are against more loans.

The Polk results came one day after President Barack Obama told CBS “60 Minutes” interviewer Steve Kroft that “the only thing less popular than putting money into banks is putting money into the auto industry.”

In the Great Lakes region, where auto manufacturing is more prevalent, 16% “strongly agreed” when asked by Polk if they supported loans for GM and Chrysler. That compares to only 4% in the New England region.

Lonnie Miller, a Polk analyst, declined to share the level of opposition and support from other regions because the number of respondents was not large enough to be statistically significant.

Despite the high level of opposition, it was lower than in other surveys.

In a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted between Feb. 20 and 22, 72% opposed a second round of loans for the automakers. A mid-February survey by Rasmussen Reports reported that 64% were opposed.

Opposition in the Polk survey was lower than the 72% who opposed a second round of loans in a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted between Feb. 20 and 22. It’s also slightly lower than the 64% reported in a mid-February survey by Rasmussen Reports.

In the Polk survey, about the same percentage of people who opposed more loans — 60% — also recognized that denying them would have dire economic consequences.

Miller said the data reveals an attitude of “it’s a problem, but it’s not a problem for taxpayers to fix.”

GM and Chrysler expect a March 31 decision by the president’s auto task force on their latest loan requests.

“Right now the public doesn’t want to give anything to anybody, but they’re in the same boat,” said George Magliano, director of research at HIS Global Insight. “What matters are the turnaround plans, and concessions from the union and the bondholders. The task force and Congress will then decide if they can be viable.”

While GM did not respond to the survey results, Chrysler said it expects many viewpoints.

“We are completely focused on working with the automotive task force to ensure the viability of an industry and a company that provides economic benefits to communities across the country,” Chrysler said in a statement.

“For example, Chrysler purchases more than $30 billion (2008) in automotive parts from more than 6,000 suppliers in all 50 states, and partners with more than 3,200 dealers that employ more than 140,000 people in local communities throughout the U.S."

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