Bailout nation: 63% support Bush's TARP loan to Big Three

But no more money after this. Right?

But if the auto companies should ask for more taxpayer assistance, the poll indicates that public opinion changes dramatically. Only 28 percent would approve of providing the automakers more money, with 70 percent saying let them go bankrupt.

“One reason for that: only 15 percent say that the country would face a crisis if the automakers went bankrupt, and half say that would not cause any problems for them personally at all . But most say that the country would face major problems if the auto companies were in bankruptcy,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland…

Only 28 percent, he adds, say the auto companies involved in the current program will be able to pay all or most of the $13 billion back; one in five say they will not be able to pay any of it back to the government.

82 percent have a negative view of auto execs and 61 percent a negative view of union leaders; if the CNS story about the UAW’s country club starts circulating, the latter number will bump up past the 70th percentile too.

Kaus, writing this morning before the poll was released, argued that there’s no way Obama and the Dems will bail them out again in March given the state of public opinion. I think Geraghty’s right in arguing that there’s no way they won’t. The point of the doomsday rhetoric about economic catastrophe is to clear the way politically for any new spending Obama deems “necessary.” If the current bailout is necessary to prevent disaster, think how much more necessary the next one will be as the recession deepens. In fact, even if we see a surprise early recovery, the Dems will likely just claim that we don’t want to “fall back into the hole” by messing with the auto industry and that we should be prudent and preserve the gains with another cash infusion, etc. Exit question: Can the GOP stoke public anger about this effectively enough to spook the Dems into backing away before the midterms? With even some conservative economists supporting a huge stimulus, I wonder.