Despite the troubles in Detroit and Washington for U.S. carmakers, almost three-quarters of the buying public say they'd buy American - and over half of U.S. consumers are in the market for a new car within two years, according to a recent survey. The news is a glimpse of silver lining in the cloud currently hanging over the market, and General Motors and Chrysler in particular.

The survey, conducted by R.L. Polk & CO., may have to be taken with a grain of salt given the smallish 1,361-person sample size, but assuming their methods are sound, the study shows that 55% of U.S. consumers will be buying a new car within two years. And 72% of those buyers will be choosing American.

The patriotic purchases offer hope, but will they come too late? The damage of the market has already been done, with GM and Chrysler teetering on the brink of the abyss, only the U.S. government standing between them and bankruptcy - though even that may change.

Polk's analysts realize the problems facing the industry, but are still optimistic about the poll's results. "With all the doom and gloom in the U.S. auto industry, it's encouraging that consumers are indicating that they plan to buy a vehicle in the relative near term," said Polk's director of industry analysis, Lonnie Miller.