Friday, April 01, 2005

On Politics and Cars Correlated

The New York Times had an interesting piece about correlations between political party affiliation and car preferences. Not surprisingly, Republican voters seem more likely to buy American-made cars than Democrats, but, I bet nearly all unionized auto-workers (whom I assume still vote Democratic) are just as pro-American car as the reddest Republican.
Among their findings: buyers of American cars tend to be Republican - except, for some reason, those who buy Pontiacs, who tend to be Democrats. Foreign-brand compact cars are usually bought by Democrats - but not Mini Coopers, which are bought by almost equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. And Volvos may not actually represent quite what you think.
Apparently, the Volvo, which has always struck me as being the quintessential car for an academic, is attracting more Republican buyers:
"Volvos have become more plush and bourgeois, which is a Republican thing to be," said Mickey Kaus, a dual expert in politics and cars as the author of the Kausfiles and Gearbox columns for Slate. "Subaru is the new Volvo - that is, it is what Volvos used to be: trusty, rugged, inexpensive, unpretentious, performs well, maybe a bit ugly. You don't buy it because you want to show you have money; you buy it because you have college-professor values."
This might explain my increasing attraction to this car. There seems to be one quirky aspect of the study's findings, however: Democrats, despite generally having fewer children, seem to be more likely to buy mini-vans than Republicans. There's speculation that this is a result of gender and power:
"There is a certain resistance that male new-car buyers have to minivans even in a household with two or three kids," Mr. Spinella explained. "For the most part, red-state households are more male-dominated when it comes to decision-making for a vehicle. In blue states, it's more of a joint decision-making process." Because the Democratic women get more of a say in the decision, their families end up with more minivans than S.U.V.'s.
Now, I wonder if this might also be a function of a male-Democrat's inclination towards mini-vans? As a group, if they more likely to listen and respect their wives than Republican men, might they also be more likely to prefer minivans to other cars? But of course, these finding are not entirely predictive. Case in point: Both of my parents are "red" but my mother has very much to say in family decision-making; resultantly, my folks have two minivans!

A question that struck me: are minivans more cost-effective than SUVs? Do they get better mileage than SUVs? I doubt it. Is there a tension between the Left's environmently-friendly politics and their driving practices?


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