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FYI Guy

Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

November 5, 2012 at 6:00 AM

What drives Republicans and Democrats? Winnebagos and Smart Cars

Veer to the right in your Winnebago…

Now that Washington is on a mail-in ballot system, none of us will be driving to the polls tomorrow.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t vote with our cars.  In fact, we kind of do already.

Washington State Republicans and Democrats have strong preferences when it comes to their choice of cars, just as they do with their choice of candidates.  This really isn’t surprising, because the cars we drive can say a lot about who we are.  Think about it: when you see someone behind the wheel of a Hummer or a hybrid, you probably make certain assumptions about the driver.

Now I’m not suggesting that car choice is a predictor of a person’s politics.  But the data show that certain cars do in fact have a stronger appeal to either Republicans or Democrats.  And on the eve of this high-stakes election, with passions and anxieties running high, I thought it would be a fun diversion to take a look at what Republicans and Democrats like to drive most.

Using market data on Washington state drivers from Scarborough Research, I looked at a selection of over 40 makes of cars filtered through the political party affiliation of the driver.  With this data I was able to create an index that ranks the “red” and “blue” skew of various car makes.  The higher the car scored on the index, the greater the likelihood that its owner identifies with one or the other political party.  The index only ranks the skew, not the prevalence of a particular make of car.

Here then are the cars that topped each index — Washington state’s most partisan vehicles:

RANK

VEHICLE MAKE

BLUE INDEX

 

RANK

VEHICLE MAKE

RED INDEX

1

Smart Car

250

 

1

Winnebago

121

2

Land Rover

137

 

2

Porsche

85

3

Mini

104

 

2

Jaguar

85

4

Saab

77

 

4

Mercedes

71

5

Infiniti

57

 

5

Isuzu

63

Source: Scarborough Research, Multi-Market 2012 Release 1 and 2011 Release 1

Could you ask for a greater contrast between the two top-ranked vehicles?  Winnebago on the “red” index and Smart Car on the “blue” index — apparently, Republicans like something you can live in, while Democrats go for something you can barely fit in.

And what is our least partisan car?  Washingtonians reach across party lines for keys to a Toyota in almost equal proportions.  There was no car with a zero skew, but Toyotas only scored one point on the Democratic index.

How does Washington compare to the country as a whole?  There are some regional differences. The one that stands out is that for the U.S., Land Rovers skew solidly to the “red” side, but in Washington they are the No. 2 car for Democrats.  Nationally, the Mini tops the “blue” index while the Winnebago has the greatest skew toward Republicans, just like it does on our state index.  Kia and Nissan are the most bipartisan cars nationwide.

Washington Republicans and Democrats may prefer different cars, but what they have in common is that they drive something.  The most recent Census Bureau estimates show that 93 percent of households in Washington have at least one vehicle.  So from the “blue” Puget Sound to the “red” Palouse, nearly everybody in Washington is on the road.

…or to the left in your Smart Car

0 Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: cars, Politics, Washington State

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