The survey results, released by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, said 55 percent of U.S. adults in a Nov. 11-12 poll were in favor of loans to the industry and 30 percent were opposed.
Loans to the industry found support among Democrats, Republicans and independents, researchers said. In addition, 64 percent indicated they agreed with President-elect Barack Obama's position of ensuring the industry remains viable.
The support was "built mainly on a genuine fear that a failed GM, Ford, and Chrysler could lead to a depression," said Peter Hart, chairman of the polling firm.
Seventy percent indicated they felt a collapse of the industry would hurt the country's standing in the world and 80 percent indicated the industry's collapse would hurt the U.S. economy, researchers said.
The survey of 804 U.S. adults included a margin of error of plus and minus 3.5 percentage points, researchers said.
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