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Support for Trade Agreements Solid Among Swing Voters

Friday, June 24, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Support for Trade Agreements Solid Among Swing Voters

A recent survey of swing voters in four key U.S. states found that there is more popular support for trade agreements than is often portrayed in the press, according to survey sponsor Progressive Policy Institute. Most respondents said they believe the benefits of trade agreements outweigh the costs and that global competition is more responsible for domestic job losses than trade agreements.

Swing voters are “less ideological, less partisan and less angry than base voters,” the PPI said. In general, they are “pragmatists” who are attracted to new ideas for stimulating economic growth such as enacting trade agreements with strong labor and environmental protections, reforming regulatory and tax structures to increase competitiveness and keep jobs from moving overseas, building infrastructure, and improving education, training and retirement benefits. Most (84 percent) identify themselves as independent and a majority (57 percent) consider themselves moderates.

Among the survey’s findings with respect to swing voter views on trade and economic growth are the following.

- 73 percent said the U.S. must rely heavily on trade with other countries to have a strong economy

- 54 percent said new trade agreements can help the economy and create good paying jobs if they ensure strong labor and environmental standards, compared to 35 percent who said even in that case the costs of trade agreements outweigh the benefits

- 65 percent said the cause of lost manufacturing jobs is competition from cheaper labor overseas, compared to 29 percent who blame “bad trade agreements”

- 23 percent said the best way to keep U.S. companies from moving manufacturing jobs overseas is to end trade agreements, behind educating more highly skilled workers (36 percent) and lowering corporate taxes (30 percent)

- 50 percent said the U.S. should focus on training workers for jobs in high-tech manufacturing compared to 40 percent who supported working to bring back manufacturing jobs that do not require advanced education of training

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