Poll: South Carolinians think better of BMW, Boeing than politicians

04/16/2014 8:22 PM

04/17/2014 8:50 AM

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all, according to South Carolinians?

Here’s a hint: It’s not a politician or politician party. It’s a company. Or two.

Earlier this month, the Winthrop Poll asked almost 900 South Carolinians to rate their feelings – very or somewhat positive, neutral or somewhat or very negative – about nine public figures, political groups and companies.

Coming in highest?

BMW and Boeing, outpacing Democratic President Barack Obama, Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, former Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and the national and state Democratic and Republican parties.

More than six out of 10 of the South Carolinians surveyed – 62.1 percent – said they had very or somewhat positive feelings about BMW, which established a vehicle plant in the Upstate in 1992. Since then, the German automaker has invested more than $6 billion in its Greer facility, which employs 8,000 directly and more than 31,000 indirectly.

The company recently announced plans to spend $1 billion to expand that plant, an expansion that will add 800 jobs by 2016.

Coming in just behind BMW was Boeing, with 59.5 percent of the South Carolinians surveyed saying they have very positive or somewhat positive feelings about the aircraft marker, which announced it would open a 787 assembly plant in North Charleston in 2009.

Today, that facility employs 7,000, a number that could grow to 30,000, a plant official told a group of Richland 2 students who were visiting the facility earlier this month. (Some of the small parts that Boeing uses to make planes cost more than a entire BMW, a Boeing official told the students, encouraging them to do well in school, graduate and apply for a job.)

Winthrop Poll director Scott Huffmon said the difference in South Carolinians’ attitudes toward BMW and Boeing – 62.1 percent vs. 59.5 percent positive – was statistically insignificant because they were within the poll’s 3.3 percentage point margin of error.

The results are not surprising for at least two reasons: No. 1, the jobs the two companies have created in employment-hungry South Carolina, and No. 2, the competition the two companies faced in the poll.

Or, as Huffmon put it, when asked why the companies fared so much better than politicians and political groups: “No built in ‘haters!’ (i.e. the ‘other’ party).”

Jobs up, pols down

The Winthrop Poll asked 877 adults living in South Carolina to rate their feelings about nine public figures, political groups or companies. How they fared:

Subject Very or somewhat positive Very or somewhat negative
BMW 62.1% 6.8%
Boeing 59.5% 4.9%
President Barack Obama 39.6% 47.5%
S.C. GOP 36.9% 31.5%
Former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint 33.6% 19.3%
National GOP 33.4% 38.4%
National Democratic Party 33.2% 40.6%
S.C. Democratic Party 31.7% 35%
House Speaker John Boehner 20.2% 29%

NOTE: The remainder of those surveyed either were “neutral” on a subject, not sure or declined to answer the survey question.

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