TORRANCE, CA – Barack Obama's presidential election win on Tuesday no doubt disappointed many public fleet managers. According to the results of a survey of Government Fleet readership, most think the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan team would be more beneficial for fleet operations and will be voting for them. Of survey respondents, 63% said they would vote Republican while 31% said they would vote Democrat.
Comments by responders focused on the worry about national debt and too much government interference, and the need for political parties to work together to achieve results and for the U.S. to become fossil-fuel independent by focusing on alternative fuels.
While fleet managers on both camps expressed their frustration with the other party, (“I’m worried about retirement benefits if Republicans gain control,” and “I feel the current party has done more harm than good”), many also advocated for the parties to work together to achieve results.
“Nothing will change the way the government is run until we get both houses of Congress in line together for the benefit of the nation,” one American Independent reader voting for Romney said, echoing the comments of other respondents. “Neither choice for the presidency can really make a difference until Congress changes.”
One of the most oft-cited concerns among respondents was the national debt. “The national debt is the main issue I think will impact everything else,” a fleet manager wrote. Those who commented on the national debt were all voting for Romney and had voted Republican in 2008.
The Debate About Alternative Fuels
With gas prices, independence from imported oil, and alternative-fuels on everyone’s minds, the Politics Survey asked what fleet managers thought about global warming and alternative-fuel vehicles. Survey results show that 48% of public fleet managers believe there is not enough evidence to determine whether climate change is man-made, while 37% believe there is. Filtered by the candidate readers will vote for on Tuesday, 81% of Obama supporters believe current evidence supports man-made climate change, and 68% of Romney supporters believe there is not enough evidence.
Many government fleets are or have switched to alternative-fuel due to federal and local government mandates as well as agency-wide sustainability plans. Most fleet managers (58%) are against government requirements to use more alternative-fuel fleet vehicles if doing so increases costs while 31% were in favor of this idea.
The survey also asked if the government should offer subsidies for companies to develop alternative energy sources or let the marketplace determine how alt-fuel use develops. The majority (58%) believe the government should leave it to the marketplace, while 41% favored government intervention.
“If the government is going to subsidize the oil industry to keep or make them competitive, why would they not subsidize alternative sources of energy?” an Obama supporter who favors government intervention in alternative fuels asked. Another Obama supporter agreed, calling the higher amount of subsidies to oil companies “an unfair playing field.”
Updated 11/7/12 at 4:45 p.m.
But it’s not only those voting Democrat who agree with this stance. One Republican said, “The government needs to provide funding and support to accelerate the development of sustainable fuel solutions. It is obvious the industry is not going to do it on its own because of resistance to change, lack of economies of scale, and the huge tooling and infrastructure investment in current petroleum-based transportation.”
Another Romney supporter agreed in the need for the development of alternative-fuel vehicles and infrastructure but not to the detriment of the fossil fuel industry: “We need to work toward alternative fuel sources for the very long term, but not to hinder the use of fossil fuels, and not over-regulate fossil fuel companies.”
As governments continue to “go green” by buying alternative-fuel vehicles, some with the hope of paving the way for alt-fuel vehicle growth, one Romney supporter expressed his skepticism of its effectiveness. “Alternative-fuel vehicles will never take hold until they are able to become mainstream in the retail marketplace. Governments purchasing vehicles will never create demand in the retail marketplace,” the reader wrote.
An American Independent voting for Obama wrote about the concern of current fleet practices. “Fleets need to be a catalyst for public involvement in energy efficient vehicle usage rather than individual experimentation. The focus on R.O.I. has been lost to the detriment of the public interest,” the reader stated.
An undecided voter expressed his concern that not all alternative fuels are beneficial. “The current definitions of alternative fuels include options that are harmful. I definitely have a problem using arable lands for fuel production and also with fracking.”
How Government & Regulations Affect Fleet Operations
Of the survey respondents 61% believe government entities are too regulated, in comparison to 11% who believe it is not regulated enough and 28% who believe there is sufficient regulation. Not surprisingly, 77% of Romney supporters believe it is too regulated, in comparison to 29% of Obama voters who believe this.
An Obama supporter said, “Fleet management sections could operate much more efficiently and give taxpayers a better value for their dollar if they were allowed to operate as a business, but regulations and red tape often prevent creative thinking and competitive ideas.”
Another fleet manager frustrated with local government, a Romney supporter, said, “Our agency is run by commissioners who have no idea what we do or why. They control money and spend it foolishly while we have garbage trucks that are so worn and used, garbage falls out the bottom faster than we load it in the sides.”
As for unions, the majority (58%) of fleet managers view unions in an unfavorable light (favorable 23%, undecided 19%). More Obama supporters viewed employee unions favorably (47%) than Romney supporters (9%).
One reader unaffiliated with a party and undecided about who to vote for who viewed unions unfavorably explained his reasoning: “I believe unions can be a good thing, if governed properly, but many times they do not see the big picture, that what is good for an agency or company is also good for the union employees.”
The Swing States Also Go to Romney
And as always, the swing states are up for grabs and are the subject of much media coverage. If the GF respondents in the 12 swing states of CO, FL, IA, MI, NC, NH, NM, NV, OH, PA, VA, and WI (as defined by USA Today/Gallup) were to choose, Romney would be the new president. 64% of survey respondents in these states are voting Republican, 33% Democrat, and 3% other/undecided/not voting.
*GF conducted this survey of its readership Oct. 30 – Nov. 1, 2012. The number of qualified responses was 119. Responses came from fleet professionals in 37 states and Washington D.C.
Updated 11/7/12 at 4:45 p.m.
By Thi Dao