News

You Are What You Drive

I can see it now – commuter cars on campus littered with flyers printed on recycled, cruelty-free, soy-ink, union-made paper. The HBS Democrats have a reason to be a little concerned, for it appears as though Kerry’s appeal is weak among certain auto owners. Anyone with a web address can conjure together a presidential candidate poll for November’s election, and the latest group to release statistically-dubious results is Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com). The company’s website propaganda reads that “since 1926, car buyers and sellers have relied upon Kelley Blue Book for authoritative and unbiased information to make well-informed automotive decisions.” Can we now rely on this puppet of the auto lobby to make well-informed predictions for this fall?

Kelley crafted the query and collected a fair number of responses through its website by uniquely cross-profiling each website registrant’s currently owned car with their respective presidential candidate choice. No surprise that Kerry handily wooed the Subaru, Hyundai, and Toyota crowd, as well as a majority of convertible and hybrid owners. Yet Bush, who frequently off-roads around his Crawford ranch in a Ford full-size F-250, resonated with SUV, truck, and related vehicle drivers. So is it any surprise that Arnold Schwarzenegger [a Republican] owns twelve Hummers? Eat his dust, girlie-men. What a strange attachment to gas-guzzlers the GOP seems to have.

The cohort I found most telling in the poll was the soccer mom – or simply middle-aged, married females with children whose households owned at least one minivan. On average, these women are siding with Bush in this year’s election by a slim margin according to Kelley’s poll. But these nuanced revelations aren’t much of a surprise. Upper-middle-class suburbanites are highly coveted by the GOP and, in many regions, now form the GOP’s dominant voting blocs. Despite rising fuel prices, they’ve fallen in love with large luxury autos. Who could’ve imagined ten years ago that Lincoln and Cadillac would be competing for market share against Jeep and Chevy? The tax cuts have to be spent somewhere, right? I suppose that the walnut-trimmed interiors and off-road capabilities come in handy for a lone driver navigating webs of gated communities and chain-store shopping centers.

October 12, 2004