WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — The government loans made to the auto industry became a hot issue following the presidential debates – and a recent study says that most Americans think it was good for the economy.
A majority of Americans in 2012 (56 percent) say the government loans made to GM and Chrysler in the midst of the financial crisis were mostly good for the economy, while 38 percent say they were mostly bad. In October 2009, almost a year after the loans were announced, public opinion was reversed: Just 37 percent said the loans were good, while 54 percent said they were bad.
Views of the auto bailout have grown more positive among nearly all groups.
In 2012, Republicans are divided over the auto loans (44 percent mostly good for the economy, 52 percent mostly bad). In 2009, 70 percent of Republicans thought they had a negative effect on the economy while just 23 percent said they were mostly good for the economy.
Independents also had negative perceptions of the auto loans in 2009 (33 percent mostly good, 59 percent mostly bad), but opinions are now more positive than negative (54 percent vs. 40 percent).
And while about half of Democrats (53 percent) said the loans were good for the economy in 2009, that number has risen to 72 percent in 2012.
Opinion about the loans to General Motors and Chrysler is particularly positive in the Northeast and Midwest.
About two-thirds of Northeasterners (66 percent) and 61 percent of Midwesterners say they have been good for the economy, compared with 53 percent of Southerners and 48% of Westerners.