Study: Political leanings drive car choice

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“Liberals are the least likely to buy American, but I think you also have to look a little deeper to see that a higher percentage of those liberals would buy only American - more than would buy only foreign,” said Roger Simmermaker, author of “How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism.”

Twenty-seven percent of liberal Democrats say they would only consider a U.S. car., but that, too, is the lowest of the five political groups broken out by Gallup.

(The number of respondents who identified themselves as liberal Republicans was too small to justify its own category, Gallup said.)

As fun as it is to color by numbers, a variety of factors correlate to car-buying decisions: Age, household income and geography all exert a strong influence, according to Gallup.

But the type of driving you do may play the biggest role.

“If you’re looking at more fuel-efficient vehicles, smaller vehicles, [imports] have the edge,” said Bruce M. Belzowski of the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. “If you look at people who need a larger vehicle, who need towing capacity, they probably go more toward the Big Three.”

Behind the stereotypes are millions of individual decisions. A conservative in a BMW is not a contradiction, nor is a liberal in a pickup - without the NRA sticker, of course.

And now that Toyota is making pickups in Republican Texas, all bets could be off.

You can bet, though, that made-in-Texas doesn’t cut it in Michigan.

Though thousands of Americans work for foreign car makers in the United States, it is Ford, GM and Chrysler that do the most for the country, said Mr. Simmermaker, who also runs the Web site howtobuyamerican.com.

“From the people they employ to the retirees and dependents they support to the fact that they buy most of their parts in the U.S., any way you want to look at it, they have done right by the American economy,” he said, adding that both liberals and conservatives bear some blame for their current troubles.

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