Do You Vote Like Your Car?

Posted: November 3, 2008

In the final hours before Election Day, the candidates are battling for every vote.  That means courting undecided voters. 

They might be able to save some time by checking out the kind of cars voters are driving. According to a recent CNW Research marketing survey, what people drive tends to show how they vote.

Obama Should Give Up on These Guys

Some of the results play directly into red state/blue state stereotypes. For example, pickup truck drivers are 3.5 times more likely to be Republicans than Democrats. 

Compact SUV drivers are about equally likely to belong to either party -- 21 percent of them are Republicans, 26 percent are Democrats, and the remaining are Independents or undecided --but the politics trend decidedly Republican as the SUVs get bigger. In fact, large SUV owners are more than twice as likely to be Republicans as they are to be Democrats. That may explain why Sarah Palin drives a full-size Chevrolet Tahoe.

McCain Needs to Think Outside the Econobox

While Republicans rumble around in trucks and SUVs, what are Democrats driving? According to the survey, affordable small cars are more likely to be driven by Democrats than Republicans. About 43 percent of people who drive budget cars, such as the Honda Fit and Chevy Aveo, say they're Democrats. Only 14 percent of those budget car owners identify as Republicans.

Near-luxury car owners are also more likely to be Democrats, and the proportion of minivan owners that identify as Democrats (29 percent) is almost twice the proportion of minivan owners who say they're Republicans (18 percent). Where Democrats really dominate are wagons. No matter the size or price point, a larger percentage of wagon owners identify as Democrats than Republicans.

And the greatest indicator you're a Democrat? Nearly 56 percent of hybrid drivers are Democrats, while a mere 14 percent claim to be Republicans.  Case in point? Hilary Clinton has a Mercury Mariner Hybrid. While John McCain's stable of 13 cars includes a Prius, the candidate says he bought it for his daughter-who reportedly voted for John Kerry in 2004. 

Swing Votes

An interesting finding in the survey is that voters are more alike than they are different. In 10 of the survey's 29 car categories, the difference in the percentages of owners who identify as Republicans or Democrats is small -- roughly five percent. Those categories with the smallest differences tend to be the most popular segments of the market, too.  Midsize cars, apparently, are something we can all agree on. Interestingly, the differences fall at the top of the market as well. Exotic cars like Ferrari and Lamborghinis have roughly equal numbers of left- and right-leaning owners.

So maybe exit polls are better predictors of political outcomes than a parking lot tally at your polling place. But no matter what your politics are, or what kind of car you have, the important thing is that you start it up, drive to the polls (or if you're Joe Biden, take Amtrak) and make your voice heard. 

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