You probably know this is an awful presidential election. But maybe you want even more evidence.
Here it is. A survey of car buyers by research firm Strategic Vision found off-the-charts dislike of both presidential candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. The firm asks car buyers to rate candidates the same way they rate vehicles, on a scale of 1 (hate) to 7 (love). A middling score of 4 represents “satisfied.” The firm then indexes the ratings to produce a score ranging from -1,000, which would be total hate, to 1,000, or total love.
Trump earned a -569. Clinton, a -481. That places both candidates in the second-lowest category, characterized as “failure.” “We’ve never seen scores this bad, ever,” sales Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision. When the firm asks consumers to rate vehicles they’ve purchased, there’s rarely a score below 200. One of the lowest scores for any vehicle accrues to the Chevy Express Cargo Van, which earns a score of 207. This is the vehicle that pleases consumers far more than either of their main choices for president this year:
The research firm did similar polling in 2012. President Obama scored 331. His Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, scored 307. Both polled in the range between “satisfied” and “excellent.” There are some obvious difficulties applying polling methodology meant for automobiles to political candidates. For one thing, people who buy a car have dozens of choices, many tailored to their specific needs and desires. This year’s presidential candidates are more like survivors of attrition warfare than market-tested favorites. Clinton’s shiftiness causes huge trust issues; Trump’s caustic treatment of women, minorities and critics suggests he’s a thin-skinned bully.
Dems hate Trump more than Republicans hate Clinton, for those wondering about the specifics of inter-party hatred. Democrats rate Trump -945, which almost pegs the maximum hate mark of -1,000. Republicans rate Clinton -878, which is slightly more measured hate. Trump can’t even get on the like scale with his fellow Republicans, who rate him -186. Clinton at least breaks into unhated territory with her fellow Dems, who rate her 112. Better than zero! It could make a great campaign slogan.
Strategic Vision also asks people of each party what type of automobile they drive. You won’t be surprised to learn that 45% of full-size pickup owners are Republicans, while just 15% are Democrats. (The other 40% rejects any association with either party.) What do Democrats drive? Practical cars like the Subaru Outback, the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4.
But here’s a pop quiz: Which party most likes convertibles? You might think it’s Democrats, since the wind thrashing your hair on the open road is a sort of Kerouacian ideal of American freedom and mobility. But could it be Republicans? Maybe Democrats these days are too fusty to bother with something impractical like a convertible.
The answer: Republicans, who account for 42% of convertible buyers. Democrats, just 27%. But somehow it seems unlikely we’ll see Donald Trump in a convertible any time soon. The hair, and all. Maybe that helps explain why his own party doesn’t like him. Or, seemingly, anybody else.
Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.