GM or Chrysler Bankruptcy: More Gain than Pain for Car Industry?

Twice as many say bankruptcy would help rather than hurt the car industry.

ByABC News
December 15, 2008, 12:03 PM

April 27, 2009— -- Americans by 2-1 think U.S. automaker bankruptcies would help rather than hurt the car industry, most doubt that it would damage the broader economy – and relatively few say it would have a strong impact on their own car-buying intentions.

Those indicate that a Chapter 11 filing by one or more of the Big Three automakers is hardly the public-opinion bogeyman some suspect. Indeed most Americans see a neutral or positive impact – consistent with the fact most steadily have opposed the federal loans floating GM and Chrysler, saying the main problem is their own management.

Click here for PDF with charts and questions.

Such views carry political weight: Out of 13 individual issues tested in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, handling the situation with the U.S. automakers is the only one on which most, 53 percent, disapprove of President Obama's performance.

IMPACT – The poll finds that 43 percent of Americans think that filing for bankruptcy protection while restructuring would be a good thing for the auto industry in the long run; 21 percent, by contrast, think it'd be bad for the business. The rest see no difference.

In terms of the national economy, fewer think an automaker bankruptcy would be affirmatively good – 30 percent – but that's as many as think it'd be bad, 27 percent. And a plurality doesn't think it'd make much difference to the broader economy either way.

Twenty-five percent say they'd be less likely to buy a car from a company in bankruptcy restructuring. But fewer, 14 percent, say they'd be "much" less likely to do so. And 10 percent say they'd in fact be more likely to buy a car from such a company – 5 percent, "much" more likely.

GM announced its latest restructuring plans today, trying to meet a June 1 deadline to satisfy federal regulators. Chrysler is seeking a merger with Fiat, again with Washington holding the shotgun. Either or both could still wind up in Chapter 11, the bankruptcy procedure that enables them to stay in business while restructuring.