By on April 14, 2010

According to the latest Rasmussen telephone polling [via The Financial], 48 percent of Americans believe that the government’s ownership stake in GM and Chrysler means it has a conflict of interest in regulating competing automakers. 25 percent disagree, saying that the government’s bailout doesn’t affect regulation, and another 26 percent aren’t sure. When it comes to recent criticism of Toyota by administration officials like Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, only 25 percent believe the criticism stems from a desire to help GM, while 38 percent disagree and 37 percent aren’t sure. But the polls most interesting results have nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with perception:

Despite Toyota’s major safety recalls, owners of its cars are still more loyal than those who drive cars made by the bailed-out GM. Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans who currently own a Toyota say they are at least somewhat likely to buy their next car from the troubled automaker, compared to 57% of GM drivers who say they are at least somewhat likely to buy their next car from GM.

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26 Comments on “Poll: 48 Percent Believe Government Has “Conflict Of Interest” In Auto Regulation...”


  • avatar
    L'avventura

    25% believing that the US government is criticizing Toyota with the “desire to help GM” is NOT good. Worse, the 37% that aren’t sure is even more troubling.

    The whole “conspiracy-theory” angle should be a much smaller minority; I would have expected less then 5% of the general population. The fact that the 37% are ‘unsure’, means that they are at least entertaining the thought that the government is acting nefariously.

    Granted, there unquestionably is a ‘conflict of interest’. But if a government really is maliciously harming Toyota to help a domestic automaker which it bailed out, this is a incredibly serious allegation. This is a gross act of protectionism comparable to the Chinese-Rio Tinto case.

    • 0 avatar

      Whether The Man is really puffing up GM/Chrysler at Toyota’s expense or not, Uncle Ray put a lot of doubt in people’s minds with his ham-handed criticisms of Toyota. I’ve been very critical of how Toyota handled recent recalls, but I’ve always thought that overall, Toyota is hard to beat. The recent mess will be felt for awhile, and certain Toyotas may suffer lower resale values, but Toyota isn’t going anywhere, unlike some domestic brands.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      How troubling that citizens doubt the good intentions of their government!

      I mean, Americans are seriously spoiled. North Koreans never doubt their government.

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      What this shows most of all is that the current administration has no more a trust factor with the American people than previous. The people’s trust is waning, and this is just a fruit of that problem, not the root.

    • 0 avatar

      Just a thought: if 25 percent (1 in 4) of those surveyed believe in a “conspiracy”… maybe, just maybe, it shouldn’t be simply laughed off as a conspiracy?

      I’d wager that if you ask 10 random people on the street, “Who do you feel is more trustworthy, the federal government or Toyota?” the majority would say Toyota. I sure as hell would, and I’ve never even owned one (but I have admired friends’ Corollas, Camrys, 4Runners and even an ’04 Land Cruiser.)

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Them city folks and we-uns are pretty much alike,
    Though they ain’t used to living in the sticks.
    We don’t like stone or cement, but we is in agreement
    When we gets down to talking politics:

    Chorus: The country’s in the very best of hands,
    the best of hands, the best of hands.

    The Treasury says the national debt is climbing to the sky
    And govermnent expenditures have never been so high.
    It makes a feller get a gleam of pride within his eye,
    to see how our economy expands,

    Chorus

    You ought to hear the Senate when they’re drawing up a bill,
    Whereases and to wits are crowded in each codicil.
    Such legal terminology would give your heart a thrill.
    There’s phrases there that no one understands.

    Chorus

    The building boom, they say, is getting bigger every day.
    And when I ask a feller: “How can everybody pay?”
    He come up with an answer that makes everything OK,
    “Supplies are getting greater than demands.”

    Chorus

    Don’t you believe them Congressmen and Senators are dumb.
    When they run into problems that is tough to overcome,
    They just declare a thing they calls a moritorium.
    The upper and the lower house disbands.

    Chorus

    The farm bill should be 89 percent of parity,
    Another feller recommends it should be 93.
    But 80, 95 percent, who cares about degree?
    It’s parity that no one understands.

    Chorus

    Them GOP’s and Democrats each hates the other one.
    They’s always criticizing how the country should be run.
    But neither tells the public what the other’s gone and done.
    As long as no one knows where no one stands,

    Chorus

    The money that they taxes us, that’s known as revenues,
    They compound up collaterals, subtracts the residues.
    Don’t worry about the principle and interest that accrues,
    They’re shipping all that stuff to foreign lands,

    Chorus

    The Country’s In The Very Best Of Hands
    From the Musical “Lil’ Abner” (1956)
    (music Gene de Paul / lyrics Johnny Mercer)

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    Blah,blah,blah. Fact is the numbers I get every week for So Cal have shown Toyota with a steady growth month after month, including used car sales. To think people will jump ship from reliable transportation to one of the big 3 is naive. Like burning your hands on a stove as a child, you don’t forget what you use to drive with your fingers crossed.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Actually, for a lot of people below 30 or so, they don’t have any experience with GM to forget or for that matter any domestic maker. They have been fairly well served by their appliances and probably won’t ever go to domestic except trucks.

  • avatar

    Most people who drive cars are idiots. They are unqualified to critically evaluate cars, let alone decide on conflict of interest issues.

    Evidence: observing the people in front of, behind and next to me on the road. Driving-While-Using-cellphones/texting/eating/grooming; failing to use turn signals; tailgating; speeding; DUI; blowing thru red lights; failure to make full stops; no headlights at dusk; etc.

  • avatar
    cykickspy

    This makes me laugh how people believe that there is some kind of conspiracy with the gov’t owning a share in GM and Chrysler and spanking Toyota for not being upfront with defects in their vehicles.
    If they didn’t do their job and confront Toyota… than who would?
    If their is a conflict in interest… that would be the former nhtsa workers working for auto companies.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    “When it comes to recent criticism of Toyota by administration officials like Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, only 25 percent believe the criticism stems from a desire to help GM, while 38 percent disagree and 37 percent aren’t sure. But the polls most interesting results have nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with perception”

    So, the majority (a very slim one, but a majority nonetheless) DON’T AGREE with this theory. An almost equal number aren’t sure, which only speaks to how much BS circulates in daily life. I think most people are capable of seeing the ruse here, and aren’t buying into it.

    Just like how it has become “common knowledge” the Toyota SUA = Audi UA, I think regular people see that this dog doesn’t hunt.

    I don’t know how the Rasmussen poll selects it’s participants, but like many of the surveys we criticize from other sources (like Consumer Reports, etc.) selection of participants is key.

    What speaks to me more is this:

    “Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans who currently own a Toyota say they are at least somewhat likely to buy their next car from the troubled automaker, compared to 57% of GM drivers who say they are at least somewhat likely to buy their next car from GM.”

    Somewhat likely… we could ask more vague questions.

    The difference is 7 points, what’s the margin of error on these essays, +/- 3%? Are we looking at almost statistical insignificance?

    @cykickspy: you bring some good points.

  • avatar
    shiney2

    That would be 100% of FOX news viewers, and 2% of everyone else.

  • avatar
    obbop

    There will never be a GMC-based vehicle of any type, new or used, leaking oil on my shanty’s gravel driveway.

    I will not even allow my dollars and cents to be used to purchase a part for a bought-used GMC product.

    I will, however, not hesitate to consider a Toyota in my future though it will be many years before I can afford to sell my Silverado since it IS my back-up housing unit if the economy worsens and if I am ever forced to vacate the shanty.

  • avatar
    vento97

    …and despite the Government’s “perceived” best efforts, GM continues to repeatedly suffer from self-inflicted gunshot wounds to both feet…

  • avatar
    vento97

    Is it just me, or does LaHood resemble a mob boss testifying at his own trial???

  • avatar
    George B

    I don’t believe that the federal government is more or less likely to help make life tough for Toyota because of an ownership stake in General Motors and Chrysler. Wouldn’t expect either the regulators, the current congress, or the executive branch to act any differently if General Motors or Chrysler magically paid back all the money they received. Also wouldn’t expect Ford to be treated worse for avoiding the bailout.

    My concern would be that unions have unusually strong influence on the current administration and companies like Toyota that manufacture cars without the “help” of the UAW may face less favorable treatment in Washington DC than GM, Chrysler, or Ford for the same situation. Seeing the UAW get more favorable treatment than bondholders in bankruptcy and the frequency that Andy Stern visited the whitehouse makes me question if non-union car manufacturers might catch more grief.

  • avatar

    There are people who believe in the tooth fairy. There are people who believe the world is flat. There are people who believe there is no conflict of interest.

  • avatar
    b1msus93

    Considering Japan is one of the most closed markets for foreign automakers, I’d love it even if all these conspiracies prove to be true

  • avatar
    moedaman

    I don’t know if there is a conflict of interest or not. But the situation is set up for it to easily occur. And that is the troubling aspect of this. The influence of the UAW, to me, is the real worry. I think all transplants, not just Toyota, might be treated unfairly.

  • avatar

    My daughter came home last week and told me that her grade 12 economics course was doing a unit on failed government policies and the GM/Chrysler bailout was the leading example of misguided government intervention. Capitalism is apparently dead in North America. After GM and chrysler collapse for the final time in a few years this whole debacle will be studied by future generations much like Chicago gangland and the depression era are today.


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