As Donald Trump continues to hammer Hillary Clinton’s record on trade and economic policies, a blockbuster new POLITICO Pro-Harvard poll shows that a majority of Americans believe multinational trade agreements of recent decades have lost U.S. jobs and depressed wages.
The poll seems to represent a stunning rebuke of the trade agenda of Washington leaders in both political parties, and may portend poorly for Hillary Clinton, who has a long record of being a vocal advocate of global trade.
The poll “shows an across-the-board skepticism toward international trade,” Politico writes. By a five-to-one margin, Americans believe that trade policies with other countries have lost American jobs (65% believe our trade policies have lost the U.S. jobs versus only 13% who believe our trade policies have created U.S. jobs).
By a nearly four-to-one margin, Americans believe our trade policies have lowered rather than raised wages. Only 14% of Americans believe our trade policies have raised U.S. wages. The poll found that only a vanishing “8% of Republicans, 11% of Independents, and 19% of Democrats think free trade has led to higher wages for U.S. workers.”
A majority of those in the Midwest (53%) said free trade agreements have hurt their communities—this included important electoral states like Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
During the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders repeatedly attacked Clinton for her position on trade and accused Clinton of having “voted for virtually every trade agreement that has cost the workers of this country millions, millions of jobs.”
The latest POLITICO Pro-Harvard poll seems to confirm reports that have highlighted Clinton’s vulnerability on the issue of trade. For instance, earlier this year, the liberal, anti-Trump Huffington Post published an article which seemed concerned that Trump’s position on trade could deliver him to victory against Clinton.
“One of Donald Trump’ main elements of appeal to his voters – if not the main appeal – is his stance on trade and bringing jobs back to America. It is a winning message and Clinton is waaaayyyy behind the curve on this,” Dave Johnson, a fellow at Campaign for America’s Future, wrote in the Huffington Post.
Moreover, the POLITICO Pro-Harvard poll also seems to present troubling data for the Clinton camp regarding Clinton’s strategy of campaigning as President Obama’s third term. The poll found that most Americans do not think the U.S. economy has improved after eight years of Obama’s presidency. “A majority (56%) of Americans think the U.S. economy has either stayed the same (24%) or gotten worse (32%) since the 2008 economic downturn,” the report states. “A majority also believes it has gotten harder for both lower- and middle- income people to get ahead financially.”
Politico notes that the poll is “an ominous sign for TPP, in particular.” While less than a third of Americans “say they have heard or read anything” about the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, “among those who have heard of it, 63% are opposed and 68% think it should not be voted on until the new Congress comes into office after the lame-duck session.”
While Clinton now claims to oppose TPP is in its current form, reports have documented how Clinton played a “leading part in drafting the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” CNN has documented that Clinton is on the record as having praised or promoted the TPP at least 45 times—previously describing the deal as the “gold standard.” Moreover, in a Wednesday CNBC interview, Bill Clinton said that the case for approval of TPP is “clear.”
The poll’s findings regarding Republican voters are particularly remarkable.
The poll found that an astounding 85% of Republicans believe that so-called “free trade” has lost more U.S. jobs than it has created—a majority of Democrats (54%) and Independents (66%) agree with that sentiment. Additionally, 66% of Republicans and 50% of Independents believe that free trade has lowered U.S. wages.
By a nearly three-to-one margin, Republicans believe free trade agreements have “hurt” their community rather than helped it (47% say free trade has hurt their community versus 18% who say it has helped their community).
These findings suggest that Republican voters are overwhelmingly rejecting the views of their party’s leaders in Washington, such as the trade agenda of House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Ryan has a long record of being a vocal advocate for global trade, despite the fact that–as the new POLITICO poll shows–nearly 9 in 10 of the voters Ryan is supposed to represent believe that these so-called “free trade” deals have cost the U.S. more jobs than they have created.
“A large majority of Republicans are repudiating their party’s traditional support for free trade, and falling sharply in line with nominee Donald Trump’s insistence that trade costs Americans more jobs than it creates,” Politico notes.
Economist Peter Navarro, who is now a senior policy advisor to the Trump campaign, told Politico that Republican voters have long agreed with the position on trade now championed by Trump, but that Republican party leaders and donors refused to champion the views of their party’s voters. “There’s been a schism for a long time between registered Republicans and the party leadership,” Navarro said. “That was the essence of the primary election. You had a group of insider politicians singing the same old globalization song. And one candidate saying the emperor has no clothes.”