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Democrat vs. Republican: Who's Buying What Car?
Answers from Strategic Vision's Special Vehicle Research Study

For immediate release - Thursday, March 29, 2012

[Adobe PDF version available]

San Diego – Over the past two years Strategic Vision has collected political party choice on more than 38,700 (76,103 two-year total) new vehicle buyers with some fascinating discoveries. A slight majority of new vehicle buyers state they are Republican (37% vs. 31% Democrat). However, this changes when specific product segments are examined. For example, 69% of people who purchase convertibles are Republicans. If we were to consider luxury vehicles as another example and were to stereotype Republicans for a moment, many would guess that most luxury vehicle segment buyers are Republicans—true? This is true only if you're talking about Luxury “Sedans” (49% vs. 27%), not Luxury “Multi-Function (station wagons),” those buyers are mostly Democrats (37% vs. 30%).

“Across the board, the greater percentages of ‘Multi-Function' (e.g. station wagons, 5-door hatch types, etc.) buyers are those who claim to be Democrats,” says Alexander Edwards, Strategic Vision President. “But this is only one of many fascinating discoveries. For example, with communication efforts that always play a role in brand management and sales, having additional—and even passionate—avenues for speaking to customers can mean the difference between success and failure,” Edwards continued. “For example, you wouldn't just take this data on convertible buyers and only create ‘Republican appealing' messages, but instead ask yourself about the conquest opportunity with Democratic buyers who don't gravitate as much to convertibles. Our detailed findings will tell you why.” Edwards stressed one point; “However, you still can't ignore the obvious. If I were selling a convertible, I'd consider buying some air-time on Fox News.”

Strategic Vision also gathers explicit statements on over 440 attributes with annual sample sizes exceeding 300,000, providing data on everything from ethnicity to which brand of cell phone new car buyers own, to various psychographics and attitudes, and hundreds of new vehicle related issues—and finally media consumption habits, all of which can be correlated and connected to issues such as political party preference. “Understanding where the consumer market stands on politics is just one of the many different topics to focus on when looking into the complexities of the buyer's decision-making process. When an industry is up against a struggling economy in a competitive market, having that one last ounce of key and leverageable information on what is important to buyers can finalize their decision,” explains Darrel Edwards, Ph.D., Executive Chairman and Founder of Strategic Vision.

Though focus may often be Democratic or Republican, also relevant were those who said they were Green, Libertarian, Constitution, Tea Party or “Other.” Strategic Vision's study had interesting results with these party choices, such as Libertarians being among the youngest (median age 48) and affluent (annual median income $93k) of new car buyers.

With the political party choice data point, the study allows examination of important ValuedCentered® emotions that define who we are and what we aspire to become. Although most people are more alike than they are different and personal values are pretty much universal, there are important differences in the strength or intensity of such personal emotions and the way people express them. For example, Republicans were more likely (over 5%) to feel Secure and Personally Safe about who they are as well as Feel in Control of their Life. Democrats were 4% more likely in seeing themselves as Smart with 7% more having Post-Graduate Degrees. The following are from the study's most recent results, showing the Top 5 most popular models by political party choice:

Democrats Republicans
1. Honda Civic Hybrid* 1. Ford Mustang Convertible*
2. Volvo C30 2. Audi A8*
3. Nissan Leaf* 3. Mercedes GL
4. Acura TSX Wagon* 4. Ford Expedition
5. Ford Fiesta Sedan 5. Ford F-150*


Another unexpected discovery in this examination is that the Honda Civic Hybrid, Acura TSX Wagon, Nissan Leaf, Audi A8, Ford F-150 and Ford Mustang Convertible were also all ranked number one (*Total Value Index™ segment leader) in their respective segments in a separate study of “Total Value,” showing that when a vehicle has a clear image and the right emotional DNA, the customers' perception of value, and ultimately sales, will increase.

“We obviously believed a major election year would make such findings interesting, but the value of this data exists in how it trends with specific brands, models and the multitude of correlation profiles possible. We certainly can appreciate the anecdotal discussions that explain why these consumers make the decisions they do, but the actionable steps to create more sales comes from understanding at the brand/model level such things as ‘openness' and Freedom associated with Convertibles and those who vote Republican—for example,” says Christopher Chaney, Strategic Vision's Vice President. The following are most recent results from selected popular vehicle segments:

SegmentPolitical Party% Comparison
Small CarDemocrats35% vs. 26%
Small Multi-FunctionDemocrats42% vs. 24%
Medium CarDemocrats/Republicans (tied)34% vs. 34%
Medium Multi-FunctionDemocrats38% vs. 25%
Luxury CarRepublicans49% vs. 27%
Luxury Multi-FunctionDemocrats37% vs. 30%
Convertible (< $30,000)Republicans69% vs. 18%
MinivanRepublicans40% vs. 26%
Small SUVDemocrats34% vs. 32%
Medium SUVRepublicans41% vs. 18%
Medium CrossoverRepublicans38% vs. 30%
Large SUVRepublicans76% vs. 5%
Luxury SUVRepublicans53% vs. 22%
Standard PickupRepublicans40% vs. 24%
Full-Size PickupRepublicans51% vs. 24%


Strategic Vision is a research-based consultancy with over 35 years of experience in understanding the consumers' and constituents' decision-making systems for a variety of Fortune 100 clients, including most automotive manufacturers. Its unique expertise is in identifying consumers' comprehensive motivational hierarchies, including the product attributes, personal benefits, value/emotions and images that drive perceptions and behaviors. The ValueCentered® psychology and research methods were defined by Dr. Darrel Edwards in 1968, and enhanced by co-founders J. Susan Johnson (1972) and Sharon Shedroff (1975). For further information, contact Alexander Edwards or Christopher Chaney at (858) 576-7141.


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