What kind of car would President Obama be?

Olivier Knox
April 12, 2012

Is President Barack Obama a conflicted crossover SUV? A doomed Corvair? An Edsel that is "out of touch with reality"? A solid Jeep that overcomes daunting obstacles? A family-friendly Toyota minivan? A reliable, safe Volvo? A conservative-leaning polling group asked 39 voters who cast ballots for him in 2008 but are unsure this time around to compare the 44th president to an automobile.

Resurgent Republic put the question "If Barack Obama were a car, what kind of car would he be and why?" to focus groups drawn from the areas around Denver and Richmond, Virginia.

Sure, it feels a bit like one of these oddball job interview questionsor the notorious "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?" And Resurgent Republic spokesman Luke Frans notes by email that "some participants didn't answer the question (they couldn't come up with a car and/or reason why)."

But in a memo tied to its eye-catching graphic, Resurgent Republic says the "exercise provides fascinating insight as to the President's standing among these voters." "Voters who still approve of President Obama do not perceive him as a risky choice, but on the other spectrum, voters who disapprove believe he hasn't delivered and question whether he can change course moving forward," it says.

At the spectrum's negative pole, one voter said Obama resembles a crossover SUV: "I'm not sure he knows where (sic) way he wants to gowhat he wants to actually be." Another respondent cited Chevrolet's Corvair, saying, "It just doesn't last that long" (the car itself sold throughout the 1960s, but consumer advocate Ralph Nader slammed it in his book "Unsafe at Any Speed"). At the positive end, one voter called Obama a Toyota minivan, saying, "He seems like a family person, so I put a nice minivan." Another said Obama was "a Jeep with a spotless paint job because I think he puts a good face on, but I think he's got a lot of terrain that he's got to roll over. I think he's done a good job of rolling over a lot of the hurdles that have been put in front of himthe economy, Congress."

The unkindest cut may be from the voter who likened the president to a Chevy Volt. "I think he was a good idea, but there isn't an infrastructure to support it. He doesn't have any real teeth."

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