Photo: Courtesy of Honda
With more than eight months to go in the 2012 Presidential election campaigns, we will probably hear a lot more about red, blue and purple states.Wikipedia defines red states (22) as those that have voted overwhelmingly republican in the last five presidential elections.
Blue states (22) generally voted democratic in the same elections, and purple states (7) have also been named swing states because, as the name implies, they could go either way (there are a total of 51 because the District of Columbia is included).
Click here to see the map and list of states on Wikipedia.
Do drivers in the red and blue states generally own the same vehicles or different ones? A review of Polk registration data for the two categories shows that there are some significant differences in the vehicle buying patterns across the two categories. Some of the differences seem intuitive while others are surprising. Since the red states tend to be concentrated in the heartland, it is not surprising that pickups fare better in this category.
Large half-ton pickups account for almost twice as many new registrations (measured as share of the category) in the red states as the blue. Four of the 10 most popular models in the red states are pickups, but just two in the blue states. Also not surprisingly, the domestic brands do better in the red states while both Toyota and Honda excel in the blue states which are concentrated on the two coasts. Lastly, smaller cars tend to resonate more with buyers on the two coasts (blue) than with the customers in the Midwest (red), a logical conclusion given the Japanese and Korean’s strengths both in the small vehicle segments and on the two coasts.
The data do point out a few trends that one would not necessarily expect, though. The Toyota Camry, the company’s most popular model and a symbol of their success in this country, has a higher share in the red states than in the blue states. Nissan’s share is a full point higher in the red states, suggesting buying patterns for their customers diverge from those of Toyota and Honda buyers.
Lastly (not shown), Kia’s market share is a full point higher in the red states, while Hyundai, its corporate cousin, captures almost a half point more in the blue than in the red. These outcomes suggest the two Korean makes are appealing to different audiences, a trend the management teams of the two makes would welcome but one that does not immediately come to mind.
These data do not imply causation, but they do suggest correlation. Red state buyers don’t necessarily buy more pickups because they are more conservative, but they still DO buy more pickups. Similarly, blue state residents don’t buy smaller vehicles because they are more liberal politically, but they still do gravitate to smaller vehicles more than residents of red states.
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