Harvard/Harris Poll: GOP Voters Overwhelmingly Back Tariffs on China

Cargo ships berth at a port in Qingdao in China's eastern Shandong province on May 8, 2019
STR/AFP/Getty Images

Republican voters are overwhelmingly supportive of President Donald Trump’s economic nationalist agenda that defends American workers and U.S. manufacturers by imposing tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports.

The latest Harvard/Harris Poll reveals the growing shift of Republican voters and conservatives back to the Republican Party’s origins as the party of economic nationalism and away from the donor class’ preferred free trade absolutism.

Nearly eight-in-ten Republican voters say they support the recent decision by Trump to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from ten percent to 25 percent. Close to 85 percent of Trump supporters, as well as 76 percent of self-identified “conservative” voters, said they support the hike in tariffs on Chinese imports.

By a majority of 53 percent, American voters told Harvard/Harris pollsters that they support Trump’s increasing tariffs on China to protect U.S. workers and domestic industries from unfair, subsidized foreign competition.

The 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports is particularly supported by a wide majority of working class and rural Americans. Nearly six-in-ten Americans with some college education or less said they backed the tariffs on China while about 63 percent of Americans living in rural communities said they supported the tariffs.

It is not just the current tariffs on China that Americans, specifically Republicans, are supportive of — a majority of 52 percent of all U.S. voters said they support Trump imposing a 25 percent tariff on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese imports.

More than three-in-four Republican voters, as well as eight-in-ten Trump supporters and three-in-four conservative voters, said they want Trump to impose another 25 percent tariff on remaining Chinese imports to the U.S.

A study conducted by the Coalition for a Prosperous America found an across-the-board 25 percent tariff on all Chinese imports would stimulate a massive reshoring jobs effort and create more than 720,000 American jobs.

The American Conservative Executive Director Johnny Burtka told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that despite the Republican establishment’s opposition to tariffs on foreign imports, the 2016 presidential election of Trump defined the lack of support for the donor class and big business lobby’s economic libertarian agenda.

“The famous [President Abraham] Lincoln quote when he was out on the campaign trail saying, ‘Give us a protective tariff and I will make us the greatest nation on earth,'” Burtka said. “The United States was the greatest nation on earth, and we had a manufacturing base that was the best in the entire world, and over the past 20 years, we’ve simply handed that over to … China.”

“We know from Donald Trump’s election that many of his voters fell in that exact camp, they were economically nationalist and socially moderate to conservative,” Burtka continued. “I think there’s a huge opportunity there, but it seems like the Republicans in Congress are stuck in the 1980s. They’re bent on the Reagan policy prescription, which was right for its time but we’re in a different era … It’s time to embrace economic patriotism and its time to put forward an agenda that puts American citizens, families, and workers first.”

Previous Harvard/Harris polling found similar trends of Republicans, conservatives, and Trump supporters wanting an economic nationalist agenda in terms of jobs, imports, and manufacturing.

More than nine-in-ten conservatives, for instance, said they support reciprocal tariffs that would allow the U.S. to impose the same tariff on foreign countries as they impose on American products.

The pro-tariff views of the American electorate are in stark contrast to the billionaire donor class, which favors a global open markets policy of free trade that outsources American jobs to foreign countries as a result.

Specifically, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce attempted to tank the passage of a plan that would allow Trump to impose reciprocal tariffs, uniting with the rest of the business lobby and Republican lawmakers to strip Trump of his tariff powers. Meanwhile, there continues to be little-to-no support for the donor class’s preferred economic libertarian agenda.

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was enacted and China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO), nearly five million American manufacturing jobs have been eliminated from the American economy. The mass elimination of working- and middle-class jobs and depressed U.S. wages due to NAFTA has coincided with a nearly 600 percent increase in trade deficits.

Democrat presidential primary front runner Joe Biden continues to support NAFTA despite its economic devastation on working- and middle-class American communities. Biden also claimed last month that China is not a threat, economically, to the U.S.

One former steel town in West Virginia lost 94 percent of its steel jobs because of NAFTA, with nearly 10,000 workers in the town being displaced from the steel industry.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.


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