Op-eds and Articles

RealClearPolicy: Trump’s Wrong on Trade Policy & Maybe Trade Politics, Too

By and / 6.22.2016

The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell recently detailed the economic carnage that would result from Donald Trump’s reckless approach to trade — including likely recessions, millions of lost jobs, and higher prices for American consumers.

As we’ve detailed, protectionism is bad economics. But, apparently, it’s been good politics for Trump as well as Bernie Sanders, both of whom used trade-bashing populism to energize angry voters during primary elections, where extreme partisans often play an outsized role. And Trump promises to double down on opposition to trade as he pivots toward November.

As America moves from interminable primaries to the general election, however, Trump — and Hillary Clinton — will face a different political calculus on trade. A new Progressive Policy Institute poll shows that Democratic voters in key battleground states have a broadly positive view on trade — and a more positive one than do Republicans. Crucially, so do the swing voters, who will ultimately determine whether these states go red or blue in November.

Swing voters and voters in battleground states played a decisive role in reelecting Barack Obama in 2012 — and in sending a large Republican majority to Congress in 2014. As detailed in our new poll, conducted by veteran Democratic pollster Peter Brodnitz, these voters also have decidedly different attitudes about trade and America’s role in the global economy.

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