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September 17, 2008

Coolness to NAFTA Strong - Especially in Battleground States

The latest Democracy Corps / Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll shows that a significantly greater percentage of likely voters (henceforth voters) are “cool” rather than “warm” to “NAFTA and international trade agreements” (henceforth NAFTA), and that the “economy and jobs” (henceforth jobs) are their top concern. In both instances, the coolness to NAFTA and concerns about jobs are significantly stronger in battleground states than in the nation as a whole. Battleground states include Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

SUMMARY
•    A majority (52 percent) of battleground voters rank jobs as their top concern among 10 issues, including energy, Iraq and health care. The figure is 48 percent in the nation as a whole.
•    Twice as many battleground voters are cool as are warm to NAFTA (43-22 percent). Out of 17 issues and personalities, only four are less popular (state of the economy, gay marriage, George W. Bush, and Iraq War) than NAFTA. The battleground negatives on NAFTA are nearly twice that of the rest of the country, which are 38-26 percent cool-to-warm. NAFTA’s negatives in the rest of the country rank roughly in the middle of the 17 issues and personalities. (Congress, immigration and big corporations also have higher negatives than NAFTA in the country as a whole.)
•    While liberals and Democrats are very cool to NAFTA, independents and moderate-to-conservative Democrats and liberal-to-moderate Republicans are warier of NAFTA than their more partisan fellow voters. This is true in both battleground states and the nation as a whole.

BATTLEGROUND STATES
•    A majority of battleground voters are cool to NAFTA regardless of level of electoral participation, region, past presidential favorite, degree of loyalty to McCain or Obama, party affiliation, ideology, who they supported in the primary, what they think is the top concern facing the country, gender, age, generational cohort, race, educational level, union membership status, marital status, parental status, religion, how they feel about the direction of the country, and which party controls their congressional district.
•    In battleground states, there is little variation in the coolness to NAFTA. The following numbers refer to the percentages that are cool-warm-neutral on NAFTA.
•    The coolest attitudes to NAFTA are among Catholics (52-18-24), and irregular Catholics (59-17-24), who are seen as a key constituency in this year’s race.
•    Also very cool to NAFTA are Northeasterners (51-19-23), coast dwellers (51-19-23), white rurals (50-16-23), voters in congressional districts that are won by Democrats with a small margin (51-21-20), voters in Missouri (56-12-21), Wisconsin (50-19-23), “light blue” states (50-20-23), potential but unfirm McCain supporters (51-23-19), independents (51-21-20), Hillary supporters (51-18-24), and men without college education (52-16-25).

•    The warmest attitudes to NAFTA are among the few people who think the country is going in the right direction (30-36-23), people who think terror is the top issues confronting the country (32-32-29), thirty-somethings (32-27-32), and in Colorado (33-40-20).
•    There is an important generational “hump” in feelings about NAFTA in battleground states, with Gen X’ers feeling warmer than both Gen Y and Baby Boomers. All generational cohorts are nevertheless cool to NAFTA.
•    There is also the oft-cited difference on feelings about NAFTA by educational status, with those with high school or less feeling very negative about NAFTA (50-13-24), and those with post-graduate degrees feeling warmer (36-31-26). Importantly, the latter group is numerically small, and is still nonetheless cool to NAFTA.

NATIONAL
•    A majority of national voters are cool to NAFTA regardless of all the categories cited in the previous section, in almost all categories. The coolest to NAFTA are Hillary supporters who will not vote for Obama (51-23-13).
•    Those warmest to NAFTA nationwide are Republican party members and ideologues and firm McCain supporters (31-33-24), terror voters (30-40-22), corruption voters (32-31-28), thirty-somethings (31-31-25), generation Y’ers (32-29-26), people who think the country is going in the right direction (22-41-24), voters with post-graduate degrees (36-37-21), Hispanics (29-26-29), married moms (31-28-24), border staters (31-38-13), mountain states (33-34-25), and rural heartlanders (31-34-16).

NAFTA NEUTRALS?
•    Some poll-watchers of varying political stripes have argued that there are more people that don’t care one way or another about trade than there are people that have strong opinions about the topic. This Democracy Corps poll shows that pro-NAFTA voters and NAFTA-neutral voters are about the same percentage of voters, while the anti-NAFTA voters are nearly double either of the former two segments.
•    In battleground states, the least likely to be neutral are voters winnable by either candidate, including undecided voters currently leaning for Obama (47-26-18) and the ones currently leaning for McCain (51-25-17).
•    In battleground states, the most likely to be neutral are new presidential voters (39-20-34), border states (43-19-31), New South (34-22-35), Sunbelters (35-23-38), suburbanites (35-24-34), Obama loyalists (46-16-30), liberals (46-17-31), blacks (38-18-35), and thirty-somethings (32-27-32, although there is the “hump-shaped distribution” talked about above).
•    Nationally, the demographic groups who are least likely to be NAFTA-neutral are people that are independents and voters not solidly in either the Obama or McCain camp, Clinton supporters who say they will not vote for Obama, some less-educated categories, Northeasterns and Border Staters and Rural Heartlanders, voters in congressional districts that Democrats just barely win.
•    Nationally, the demographic groups most neutral on NAFTA are unmarried men (34-30-32). A similar pattern exists in the White Deep South.

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Comments

Henry Dubb

Now what kind of descriptors are those. Are you cool or warm to NAFTA. It seems some more meaningful descriptors could occur.

How about how many voters are hot towards NAFTA. Then we could entertain if the hot voters were more like the warm or cool voters.

Todd Tucker

Agreed! That's GQR's framing, not mine!

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