Looking deeper at the CNN survey, 7 in 10 of those polled feel that a bailout would be unfair to the American taxpayer, and only 15% think they would be directly affected if the industry were to collapse. Additionally, 53% of the respondents don't think that government aid for the car industry will help the economy, regardless of whether they approve of it or not.
The GM survey found that a majority of Americans were in favor of government support for the automotive industry, with 55% of respondents agreeing the government should provide loans to the Detroit 3. According to the survey, only 30% actually opposed providing the loans.
The poll was conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, and was funded by GM although the carmaker had no part in the "design, methodology, content or interpretation" of the poll's results. You can download a PDF file of the results by clicking here.
In November, USA Today released its own poll which said bailing out the carmakers was not high on the public's list of economic priorities, however the poll conducted by Peter D. Hart found that 69% of respondents thought that government support of the auto industry was "just as important" or "more important" than supporting financial institutions. The poll also found that only 9% of respondents thought it was unlikely that the U.S. would go into an economic depression if any of the Detroit 3 were to fold.
Interestingly, the majority of respondents were strong Democrats who drove Ford and Chevrolet vehicles, which may have skewed the results towards a more favorable outcome for support of the American automotive industry.
Regardless of where the American public, as portrayed by the various polls, stands on the issue, the matter will likely be decided soon, with the CEOs of the Detroit carmakers in Washington today to make their case for government assistance.