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The Big Divisons on the Big Three

Majority opposition to a government backed bailout of the Big Three automakers appears to be settled. After three rounds of proposals, 55 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said they oppose a $14 billion loan plan for the troubled industry, about the same proportion as opposed requests for $25 and $34 billion in previous polling.

And automakers' pleas have not convinced most Americans that the bad economy is the source of their financial trouble, nor have they successfully argued that a bankruptcy filing from Detroit would deepen the nation's economic woes.

Two central dividing lines are apparent from the crosstabs on these questions: partisanship and region. Democrats, Midwesterners and Northeasterners are more likely to support a cash infusion for Detroit (though tepidly, at best), while residents of the South and West, Republicans and independents tilt against the proposed aid package. Here's how those groups split in the new poll.

Q. The federal government is considering loaning up to 14 billion dollars to the Big Three U.S. automakers and putting in place a government board to oversee their restructuring. Some people say it's a bailout those companies don't deserve, and that they'd be better off reorganizing under bankruptcy laws. Other people say it's necessary to protect auto workers and save a key part of the U.S. economy. On balance, do you support or oppose this plan?

            Support   Oppose
All           42        55

Democrat      52        45
Independent   41        57
Republican    29        69

Northeast     48        49
Midwest       49        49
South         39        59
West          35        60

Q. Do you think the automakers' problems are mainly the fault of the bad economy or mainly the fault of their own management?

            Economy   Management
All           22          75

Democrat      25          72
Independent   23          75
Republican    16          81

Northeast     18          81
Midwest       26          71
South         23          74
West          21          77

Q. Say the loan plan is not approved and one or more of the automakers has to go under protection of bankruptcy laws while they try to restructure themselves. Do you think that would be good for the economy, bad for the economy, or would not make much difference either way?

            Good   Difference   Bad
All          17        43       36

Democrat     16        36       42
Independent  18        46       34
Republican   17        47       33

Northeast    12        45       38
Midwest      18        34       44
South        19        47       30
West         16        42       37

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  December 16, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Post Polls  
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