Bankruptcy may have put General Motors and Chrysler in a better financial position, but a report from Rasmussen shows that public opinion may have taken a big hit in the process. The survey, which was completed by 1,000 Americans in late July, shows that only 38% of Americans now have a favorable opinion of GM, down six points from May, and 21% of respondents have a very unfavorable view of the Detroit-based automaker. Chrysler now only has a 34% favorable rating, also down six points, while its very unfavorable rating has dipped to 23%.

The perils of GM and Chrysler are having the opposite affect on Ford, though, as the latest Rasmussen Report shows the public now has a 66% favorable opinion of Ford, with 22% now very favorable. The reason sited in the survey is the fact that the Blue Oval didn't require bailout money, along with avoiding a stint in bankruptcy court. For Ford, 46% of Americans surveyed are more likely to buy a car for avoiding government assistance, while only 17% say they are more likely to go GM now that the company is out of bankruptcy. While the report is good news to Ford, we'd point out that the significant swings in opinion from March to May to July shows that the public mood can shift quickly.

The bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler have certainly weighed down public opinion of the companies, but the attention the industry has received in the past year has helped the surveyed Americans place more value on the auto industry. 88% of those surveyed felt the auto industry is at least somewhat important to the economy, compared to only 49% back in March 2007. Hit the jump to review the complete Rasmussen Report.

[Source: Rasmussen Reports]


Most Americans still have a much higher opinion of the one Big Three automaker who didn't ask for a government bailout, while views of the two companies that did get bailed out continue to go down.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 66% of Americans now have at a somewhat favorable opinion of Ford, including 22% whose view is very favorable. Ford is seen unfavorably by 26%, with six percent (6%) very unfavorable. These numbers are largely unchanged from May.

By contrast, General Motors is viewed favorably by 38%, down six points from May, and unfavorably by 56%, up eight points from the previous survey. The "nays" feel more strongly now, too: Twenty-one percent (21%) have a very unfavorable opinion of GM, compared to nine percent (9%) whose view is very favorable.

For Chrysler, the news is similar. Thirty-four percent (34%) have a somewhat favorable view, down six from May, while 55% see the company unfavorably, up three points. Those with a strongly unfavorable view outnumber those who are strongly favorable by more than three-to-one – 23% to seven percent (7%).

These views may be translating into consumer buying habits, too, with 46% of Americans now saying they are more likely to buy a car from Ford because it did not seek a government bailout. Only 17% say they are more likely to buy a GM car now that the company has emerged from bankruptcy with government help, but 22% say they are less likely to do so.

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The May survey actually marked a rebound of sorts for GM and Chrysler. The new favorables and unfavorables are more in line with the findings in March and reflect the downward trend evident since the two automakers first began seeking bailout help.

But Americans also now consider the automobile industry more important to the overall U.S. economy than they have in recent surveys.

Eighty-two percent (82%) say the domestic auto industry is at least somewhat important to the economy. For 40%, it's very important, up eight points from late March and the highest finding this year.

Of course, in March 2007, 49% said the auto industry was very important to the overall economy.

Just 12% now say the automobile industry is not important to the economy, with three percent (3%) who view it as not at all important.

Generally speaking, Democrats have been more supportive of the auto bailouts than Republicans or adults not affiliated with either political party. So it's not surprising that the same partisan divide is evident in the favorables. While all three groups like Ford more, Democrats have a higher opinion of GM and Chrysler than Republicans and unaffiliateds.

Men are more enthusiastic about Ford than women, while both feel largely the same about the other two automakers.

Investors by more than a two-to-one margin have a more favorable opinion of Ford than of GM and Chrysler.

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