Update1 Did Political Contributions Influence the Chrysler Closings?by Tim Manni
UPDATE1: As we originally expected, it seems auto dealers are overwhelmingly Republican to begin with. That being the case, it makes the notion that the White House deliberately chose which Chrysler dealerships to close based on campaign contributions, not only completely foolish but, a mistake even the president’s biggest critics feel even he wouldn’t make.
Nobody has bothered to look up data for the control group: the list of dealerships which aren’t being closed. It turns out that all car dealers are, in fact, overwhelmingly more likely to donate to Republicans than to Democrats — not just those who are having their doors closed.
Overall, 88 percent of the contributions from car dealers went to Republican candidates and just 12 percent to Democratic candidates. By comparison, the list of dealers on Doug Ross’s list (which I haven’t vetted, but I assume is fine) gave 92 percent of their money to Republicans — not really a significant difference.
There’s no conspiracy here, folks — just some bad math.
It shouldn’t be any surprise, by the way, that car dealers tend to vote — and donate — Republican. They are usually male, they are usually older (you don’t own an auto dealership in your 20s), and they have obvious reasons to be pro-business, pro-tax cut, anti-green energy and anti-labor. Car dealerships need quite a bit of space and will tend to be located in suburban or rural areas. I can’t think of too many other occupations that are more natural fits for the Republican Party.
Original post published on 5/28/09: Claims that the Obama Administration directly influenced which Chrysler dealerships were closed are steamrolling across the internet. Bloggers like Doug Ross have raised the notion based on published lists of dealership owners and their political contributions. Ross concludes that the majority of the axed dealerships had donated exclusively to Republican politicians, while finding “only a single Obama donor (and a minor one at that: $200 from Jeffrey Hunter of Waco, Texas) on the closing list.”
At this juncture it’s important to note, as the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto puts it, “It must be emphasized that Ross’s evidence is suggestive, not conclusive. It does not appear that anyone has yet conducted a complete analysis of Chrysler dealers’ political contributions.”
Politics’ strong influence on the auto industry is no real secret. Leonard Bellavia, a lawyer representing some of the closed Chrysler dealerships, said Washington’s influence over the closings were alive and well:
[Mr. Bellavia] deposed Chrysler President Jim Press on Tuesday and came away with the impression that Press did not support the plan.
“It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers,” Bellavia said. “It really wasn’t Chrysler’s decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President’s automotive task force.”
We have sent an email to John Isgett, President of Raceway Automotive, whose auto dealerships have been given a closure notice by both Chrysler and GM. If Mr. Isgett can shed some more light on this issue, we’ll be sure to share it with you.
Since small business owners tend to vote Republican for entrepreneurial purposes, you could argue that the majority of all dealership owners contribute to the GOP (if they contribute at all). Even HotAir.com says this would be “politically suicidal, for no benefit greater than petty revenge.”
There may or may not be anything to this issue, but you can bet we’ll let you know either way.