This may have started with a New York Times story:
Tim Spell has noticed a peculiar condition that affects Texans’ mental, physical and automotive well-being.
“I call it ‘truck-itis,’” said Mr. Spell, the former automotive editor for The Houston Chronicle. “People in Texas will buy trucks even if they’re not going to haul anything heavier than raindrops. I was interviewing one guy. He had a 4-by-4. I said: ‘You live in Houston. Why do you have this 4-by-4?’ He said, ‘Well, I own a bar, and 4-by-4s are higher, and I can climb up on the cab and change out the letters of my marquee.’”
Whether for high-up urban letter-switching or more rural and rugged purposes, pickup trucks are to Texas what cowboy boots and oil derricks are to the state — a potent part of the brand. No other state has a bigger influence on the marketing of American pickup trucks.
Texas is No. 1 in the country for full-size pickup trucks. More of them were sold in 2015 in the Dallas and Houston areas than in the entire state of California, according to the research firm IHS Markit. There is the Ford F-150 King Ranch, named for the iconic Texas ranch. And the Nissan Texas Titan, the floor mats and tailgate of which are emblazoned with the shape of Texas. And the Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition, featuring leather seats that mimic the look and feel of Western saddles, was named for the year that the JLC Ranch in San Antonio was established.
The Texas-edition truck is a product of the state’s pull on the truck world. Some truck styles are sold and marketed only in the state as Texas editions, ensuring that pickup trucks, like a lot of things in Texas, are different here than elsewhere.
The F-150 may be the truck of Texas, but as of the 2014 model year (the latest year I could find) the most popular new vehicle in Wisconsin is …
… a Chevrolet Silverado, the F-150’s main competitor. Notice it’s easier to find states where the top selling vehicle is a pickup truck than states where a car is the best-seller.
That makes what Sean Davis reports rather mystifying:
Even after a presidential election in which scores of media personalities were shown to be entirely disconnected from the country and people they report on, the liberal media bubble is alive and well. All it took to reveal the durability of that bubble was a simple question about pickup trucks.
For those who might not be aware, trucks are really popular in America and have been for decades. The Ford F-series, for example, has been the most popular line of vehicles in America for 34 years in a row. Ford F-150’s are basically the jeans of vehicles: it’s nearly impossible to find a person in America who either doesn’t own one or doesn’t know someone who owns one. The top three best-selling vehicles in America are not cars, but trucks: the Ford F-series, Chevy Silverado, and Dodge Ram. The top-selling sedan is but a distant fourth. According to a 2014 survey conducted by IHS automotive, trucks were the most popular vehicles in a whopping 34 states. A separate 2015 study found that the F-150 was the most popular used vehicle in 36 states.
Why is this important? Because research has shown that vehicle preferences and political preferences are linked. According to a 2016 survey of 170,000 vehicle buyers conducted by market research firm Strategic Vision, what you drive can reveal a great deal about which political candidates you prefer.
The five most popular vehicle models among Republicans, for example, are all trucks, with the ubiquitous Ford F-150 leading the way. Among Democrats, the Subaru Outback is the most popular choice. If you drive a truck, you’re probably a Republican. If you drive a Subaru, you’re probably a Democrat. Donald Trump won every single state in which the Ford F-150 is the most popular vehicle (even Pennsylvania). He won all but four of the states in which the Chevy Silverado is the most popular vehicle, including Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Hillary Clinton handily won the states where people prefer Subarus.
Which brings us to the simple question about truck ownership from John Ekdahl that drove Acela corridor progressive political journalists into a frenzy on Tuesday night: “The top 3 best selling vehicles in America are pick-ups. Question to reporters: do you personally know someone that owns one?”
Rather than answer with a simple “no,” the esteemed members of the most cloistered and provincial class in America–political journalists who live in New York City or Washington, D.C.–reacted by doing their best impersonation of a vampire who had just been dragged into the sunshine and presented with a garlic-adorned crucifix.
There were basically three types of hysterical response to a simple question about truck owners: 1) shut up, 2) you’re stupid and/or sexist and/or racist, and 3) whatever, liar, trucks aren’t popular (far and away my favorite delusional response to a simple question from a group of people who want you to believe they’re extremely concerned about “fake news”). It turns out that people who are paid large sums of money to opine on what Americans outside the Acela province think get very upset if you demonstrate that they don’t actually know any of the people about whom they pretend to be experts.
Click here to see the Twitter responses to which Davis refers.
The Right Scoop adds:
Like, seriously, it’s not even combative or anything. But it doesn’t matter because journalists and liberals could sniff out that if they answered honestly they’d expose themselves and their safe space echo chambers, so they lashed out at Ekdahl in smug, self-righteous, condescending anger.
Which kinda proves his point, doesn’t it? …
The automotive editor for Ars Technica compares truck owning to BEING A HEROIN ADDICT BECAUSE HE’S NOT SENSITIVE ABOUT IT AT ALL:
.@JohnEkdahl plenty of heartlanders are opioid addicts. Does that mean to report on real Amerikkka you need an oxy habit?
… For as little as I know Ekdahl personally, I have no doubt he didn’t mean his question in a malicious way, but snowflake libs are terribly sensitive about their safe spaces. …
Ekdahl closed out the night with this explosive retweet:
Following up on #TruckGate… Reporters: Do you personally know anyone who owns an AR-15 or a civilian version of an AK-47?
Owning a gun is worse than worshipping Satan and heiling Hitler to most journalists, so you know they’re not gonna answer that question!!
This is as much media overreaction as I’ve seen since U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R–Wausau) called this state’s capital city the People’s Republic of Madison. It’s as if Ekdahl (and Duffy before him) struck a nerve with a sledgehammer, as if being equated with North Korea and people who refuse to associate with people different from themselves is a bad thing, or something.
Do I know truck owners? Since I have abandoned my hometown the People’s Republic of Madison, never to return unless unavoidable, I have been surrounded by them. In every small town I’ve lived in, the local car dealers have sold twice as many trucks as cars for years.
(If you wanted to get divisive about it, based on my observation there are three pickup truck features that separate a work truck owner — an 8-foot box instead of a shorter box, two doors instead of an extended cab or crew cab, and a manual transmission.)
One reason pickup trucks are popular is, as I’ve written here before, because of something you can no longer buy — a full-size, body-on-frame, roomy, V-8-powered car, eliminated by federal fuel economy requirements. Sport utility vehicles ranging from the Honda CR-V to the Chevy Suburban are the 21st-century equivalent of the nearly-extinct station wagon, with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive as an added bonus. The box is handy for hauling, and you can always choose to not use capacity you have; you can’t use something you don’t have.
Some people probably own trucks because they’re popular. You may be shocked — shocked! — to discover that some people make purchasing decisions based on popularity.