How Americans feel about free-trade agreements
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The topics of international trade and free trade agreements have been big issues in the presidential debates and with many voters. Republican John Kasich, who won Ohio Tuesday night, is the only candidate left standing who supports a pending trade deal that would cover roughly a third of global trade. The Trans-Pacific Partnership has faced heavy criticism from Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, in particular.
“We don’t win at trade,” Donald Trump told supporters from a Florida podium Tuesday. “China, everybody, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, India, name the country, anybody we do business with beats us. We don’t win at trade…We’re going to make our country rich again, we’re going to make our country great again.”
Sanders’ strong rebuff of trade has been credited with helping him upset Hillary Clinton in Michigan last week. Clinton and Ted Cruz have both said they don’t support the agreement either.
However, many Americans are unsure how to feel about free-trade agreements. In the latest installment of the Marketplace-Edison Research Poll, 49 percent of people said they don’t know enough about free-trade agreements to say whether they are good or bad for the economy.
About a third of respondents believe free-trade agreements are good for the economy; 18 percent say they are bad.
While Republican politicians typically support free-trade agreements more than their Democratic peers, the poll found stronger support for these agreements among Democrats – 73 percent of Democrats think trade agreements are good for the economy, compared with just under 60 percent of Republicans.
That reflects a shift also visible in the presidential campaign, where Republican front-runner Donald Trump has led the charge against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and argued that past free-trade agreements have been bad deals for American workers.
When asked to consider that the statement, “free trade is good even it if hurts some American businesses,” salaried workers were more likely to agree or strongly agree, while hourly workers were more likely to disagree. Similarly, those who made less than $50,000 disagreed with the statement much more than those who make over $50,000.