Although GOP frontrunner Donald Trump made trade policy one of his top talking points while out on the campaign trail, a new poll suggests a majority of voters have little knowledge on the topic. But of the voters that do care about trade, the poll reveals they worry trade deals impact American jobs.
“The current state of trade politics reflects a shift that’s become clear with Donald Trump’s rise in the GOP presidential primary. Trump has assailed the current U.S. trade model and blasted existing deals with major trading partners such as Mexico and China,” Morning Consult’s analysis suggests.
It’s possible that rhetoric has rubbed off on voters. A 52-percent majority of all surveyed registered voters believe trade with China has hurt the U.S., and 41 percent — including half of surveyed Republicans — believe the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship has hurt the U.S.
Morning Consult surveyed more than 10,000 voters on the topic of trade policy, free trade and President Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal with about a dozen foreign countries, which is currently awaiting approval from Congress.
Out of the 10,000 respondents, the Morning Consult survey showed 29 percent of the people oppose TPP, while 26 percent support the deal. Forty-five percent either didn’t know about the trade pact or didn’t have an opinion.
Thirty-four percent of the Republican voters oppose the TPP, while more than a third of Democrat voters support it. Roughly half of the Republicans surveyed said they thought free trade with other countries damages the U.S., while 33 percent of Democrat respondents agreed.
National Foreign Trade Council president Bill Reinsch weighed in on the varying pubic opinion of trade deals.
“You’re not going to get, I don’t think, those same kinds of numbers of Republicans or Democrats saying the biggest threat to the country is the TPP,” Reinsch stated in an interview with Morning Consult’s Ryan Rainey.
He also said he believes if Congress were to pass TPP, it would be because of the geographical implications of the deal with the Asian countries.
“The president has been very effective in making those points, and I think in the end it will be the prevailing argument,” Reinsch explained. “I think people will get that, which is why we’ll win.”
Based on the poll results, 63 percent of the respondents said they think free trade would cost Americans their jobs and 50 percent thought free trade would weaken the U.S. economy.
The Morning Consult survey was conducted online with 10,090 registered voters from March 11th to 16th. It has a plus or minus one percent margin of error.