SI Vault
Edited by Robert W. Creamer
October 04, 1976
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October 04, 1976


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If you are wondering which way that neighbor of yours is going to vote in November, take a look at his car. According to Professors Everett C. Ladd of the University of Connecticut and Seymour Martin Lipset of Stanford, who did a nationwide survey of college faculty members, the car you own reflects your political and philosophical orientation. For instance, people who own American cars tend to be more conservative than those with foreign cars, and among those who own American cars the ones with a General Motors model as their primary vehicle are the most conservative of all.

"These differences hold up with respect [to] the liberalism-conservatism scale, 1972 Presidential vote, attitudes toward Gerald Ford, cultural tastes, attendance at religious services, academic preferences and scholarly behavior," the professors claim. They note that, among faculty members, far more GM owners voted for Nixon in 1972 than did owners of other cars. Ford owners are more liberal than GM owners but more conservative than Chrysler owners. People with American Motors models are the least conservative of this group.

Among foreign-car owners, the political-philosophical spectrum runs from those with Japanese models (more liberal than American-car owners but distinctly more conservative than other foreign-car owners) to those with German cars ( Volkswagen drivers are not as liberal as those who own Mercedes) to the extremists who drive Swedish cars, with Saab owners the most left-leaning of all (98% of the faculty members with Saabs voted for McGovern in 1972).

People who have both an American and a foreign car are, predictably, in the middle of the spectrum. On the other hand, the most liberal faculty members of all, those who make even Saab owners seem conservative, the ones who are "to the left in social views, the least religious, the most involved in high culture and scholarly research, the least interested in sports and the least committed to teaching" are the wild-eyed, fanatical 2% who don't own any car at all.

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