You know better than to discuss politics with coworkers or people you just met, right? So if you want to figure out how someone is likely to vote this November, you may try guessing based on their clothes (Brooks Brothers versus Birkenstocks), hair (high and tight vs. Hillary's Helmet) or Starbuck's order (black coffee vs. fair-trade low fat mocha soy latte). As it turns out, what they drive could also hint at their political leanings.
An unscientific survey shows some distinct trends related to the types of cars voters drive. The informal survey, conducted on the U.S. News' automotive site in February 2008, garnered over 500 responses. Respondents identified as 45 percent Democrat and 42 percent Republican, with 13 percent identifying as unaffiliated or Independent. Here's what we found:
The Body-Style Politic
No matter the political stripe, the survey shows that sedans and coupes are far and away the most popular type of car in both parties. Half of Democrats drive them, along with over one-third of Republicans. The two groups differ on pickup trucks, which have become the de facto automotive symbol of red states: In the survey, 15 percent of Republicans drive them, compared with just over 3 percent of Democrats.
If there's a hatchback in front of you, odds are there's a Democrat behind the wheel. Among respondents, Democrats were 4 times more likely than Republicans to say they drive a hatchback. In politics, it's not just Elephant against Donkey -- it's F-150 against Honda Fit.
All in all, voters from both parties are more similar than different in the style of car they drive. Minivans, for example, appear to be equally loved (or hated).
|Is Your Car a Republican or Democrat: Results|
|Type of Car||Likely Vote||% of Reps||% of Dems|
Domestic and Foreign Policy
It may not surprise you that the survey found import cars to be a more popular choice among Democrats than Republicans, with 71% of Dems claiming to drive one. But another piece of data may be a surprise -- imports outnumbered domestics even among the Republicans, where about 57% claimed to drive one. In the survey, Republicans endorsed Ford and GM cars by almost a two-to-one margin compared with Democrats, who preferred Hondas and Toyotas. Chrysler (including its Dodge and Jeep brands) appeared to be common ground, where voters on either side of the aisle were equally likely to own one.
Going upmarket, however, voters in the survey again start to differ: More Democrats chose Acura, while Republicans preferred Lexus. Republicans were also slightly more likely than Democrats to drive German cars. Within the German brands, Republicans reported being partial to BMW and Porsche, while Democrats were more likely to choose Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.
The survey may be unscientific, but it does give you something to think about. Next time you want to know someone's political affiliation, don't go looking for a bumper sticker--check out the bumper itself instead.