MEMORANDUM: Public Polling – President Obama’s Middle Class Economics Trade Agenda

Below is a series of recent polls that demonstrate public support across the country for President Obama’s high-standard trade agenda.

Reuters, 5/27/2015: “A majority of Americans support new trade deals, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Wednesday, even as President Barack Obama struggles to win support for legislation key to sealing a signature Pacific Rim trade agreement….The Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted May 21-27, found that 56 percent of Americans support new trade deals to promote the sale of U.S. goods overseas, with just 13 percent opposed. Thirty-one percent were undecided. Respondents were not specifically asked about fast-track legislation or the TPP but instead were broadly asked about their views on international agreements. The result is similar to support in January after President Barack Obama pushed his trade agenda in his annual State of the Union address to Congress. That agenda also includes an ambitious deal with Europe.

Reuters/Ipsos Poll

Pew Research Center, 5/27/2015: “Overall, 58% of Americans say that free trade agreements between the U.S. and other countries have generally been a good thing for the U.S., while 33% say they have been a bad thing. These views are little changed over the last year, but are more positive than in 2011 (when 48% said they were a good thing).”

  • “Notably, there are only modest partisan differences in views of the impact of free trade agreements on the country and people’s personal finances. About six-in-ten independents (62%) and Democrats (58%) say free trade agreements have been good for the U.S., as do 53% of Republicans.”
  • “Younger adults and Hispanics continue to be particularly likely to view free trade agreements positively: Today, 69% of those under 30 say trade agreements have been good for the U.S., while just 24% say they have been bad for the country.”
  • “There are few differences in overall views of free trade by education, income or party. Those with post-graduate degrees hold slightly more positive views of free trade than those with less education (63% vs. 57% among those without a graduate degree).”

YouGov, 5/12/2015: “The latest research from YouGov shows that just under half of the American public (46%) think that free trade has, overall, been good for the United States. 30% of Americans think that free trade has been bad for the United States. Significantly, there is little difference between the percentage of Democrats (49%) and Republicans (50%) who think that free trade has been good for the country, though independents are more divided, with 40% saying free trade has been good and 32% saying it has been bad for the country.”

Wall Street Journal, 5/4/2015: “Americans’ views of free trade have  improved from the low levels following the recession, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, suggesting a more favorable climate for a push by President Barack Obama and Republicans to pass new trade legislation. Just 37% of adults polled last month said that free trade with foreign countries had helped the U.S., compared with 31% who said free trade had hurt. But that is a turning point: it marks the first time in more than 15 years that a plurality of Americans said that free trade helped. The last time Americans had more positive than negative views of trade was in December 1999, when 39% of respondents said that free trade agreements benefited the country and 30% who said the deals hurt.”

  • NBC News, 5/5/2015: “Democratic support has jumped significantly in the past five years. In the latest poll, 43 percent said free trade has helped the U.S. economy, compared to just 27 percent who said the same in 2010.”

Progressive Coalition for American Jobs, 4/30/2015: “A nationwide poll of Democrats released today by the Progressive Coalition for American Jobs shows overwhelming support for President Obama’s trade agenda. The poll, which surveyed likely voters across the country, found that 89% of respondents believe it is important for the United States economy that American companies sell products to other countries, and that Democrats trust President Obama over Congress to represent their values in trade negotiations by a wide margin – 64% to 24%.”

  • “52% of Democrats support the Trans-Pacific Partnership. After hearing how this agreement would benefit the U.S. economy, American workers, human rights, and the environment, support grows to a whopping 82%.”
  • “68% of Democrats would be more likely to vote for a Member of Congress who supports TPP.”
  • “75% of Democrats believe TPP would benefit the national economy.”

Gallup, 3/9/2015: “As they have for the past two years, a majority of Americans (58%) continue to view foreign trade as an opportunity for economic growth through increased U.S. exports, while 33% view it as a threat to the economy from foreign imports. The third of Americans who see foreign trade as a threat is on the low side of what Gallup has measured in the past two decades. The greater optimism on trade from 2013 to 2015 comes after a stretch of skepticism between 2005 and 2012.”

Trend: What Americans Think Foreign Trade Means for the Country