Exit polls in the Michigan primary show that Democrats and Republicans oppose trade — by nearly equal margins.
A majority of voters in both parties — 53% among Republicans, 56% among Democrats — said that trade “takes away U.S. jobs.” Only 34% of Republicans and 31% of Democrats say that trade “creates more U.S. jobs.”
In both parties, 8% of voters in Michigan told pollsters that trade had no effect on jobs, according to MSNBC.
Economic statistics tell a difference story. Crain’s Detroit Business noted last year that Michigan ranked 6th overall for “jobs supported by exports” among U.S. states. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Michigan exported $55.8 billion worth of goods in 2014, up 55% since 2004. There were 270,927 jobs in the state supported by exports. And 89.4% of exporters were small or medium-sized firms.
In 2013, the Business Roundtable estimated that trade supports 1.1 million jobs in Michigan.
However, voters who benefit directly from trade, or who know that they benefit indirectly from trade, may not be among those voters most motivated to participate in presidential primary elections. On both sides, candidates have tapped into anxiety about existing trade agreements, as well as mistrust of the Obama administration’s handling of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.