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November 06, 2010

Dems Have Significant Fair Trade Advantage, finds poll, except when they blur the message

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, the polling company, has released the results of a poll they took this past week for Democracy Corps and Campaign for America's Future.

There are several interesting finds:

  • While many pundits have suggested that Americans are primarily upset at the Democratic Party or President Obama, Americans feel even less "warm" about corporations. Among voters, only 29 percent fell warm towards corporations, while the comparable number is only 13 percent among non-voters. The numbers for big banks specifically were even worse in some regards: 12 percent among voters, and 16 percent among non-voters. These are lower warm ratings that have Obama, the Dems, the GOP, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, the NRA, labor unions, and more. (Only "the state of the economy" garnered lower warm ratings, while "The Tea Party" fared poorly among non-voters.)
  • Voters that voted for Democrats cited job offshoring as the most important issue facing the country, and said that the GOP candidate's support for job offshoring was the most important reason to not vote Republican.
  • Polling respondents were read four distinct narratives of campaign messages that generic candidates ran on in 2010, and were asked whether that campaign narrative would make them more likely or less likely to vote for the candidate. The first reminded voters' of the Republican Party's role in creating the conditions behind the recession, the second criticized GOP support for job offshoring, the third focused on GOP support for "free trade agreements" and how America should instead give benefits to companies that create jobs in the country, the fourth was a (control?) message about how Obama promised change but instead Democrats wrecked the economy. The third message did the best among voters, and the second message did the best among non-voters - both obviously dealing with fair trade themes.
  • Regardless of how or whether they voted, poll respondents were asked to respond to whether they agreed about with a set of statements about the state of the country. The first related to concerns about the size of the national debt, the second to Wall Street rather than Main Street being bailed out, the third about lack of bipartisanship, the fourth on corporate influence in election finance, the fifth on inequality and CEO bonuses, and the sixth and final message focused on job offshoring and the need to "make things in America." Eighty-nine percent of voters agreed with the sixth message on fair trade - more than any other narrative. Among non-voters, eighty-five percent agreed with the sixth message - second only to the third narrative about bipartisanship. Moreover, the percentage gap between those that agreed vs. disagreed with the fair trade message was the widest of all the narratives, i.e. it "won" by the largest margin.
  • Poll respondents were asked whether they favored a series of two hypothetical policies that the next Congress could take up: upgrading our national infrastructure, or launching a five year fair trade plan that attacks job offshoring. The second plan fared significantly more favorably among both voters and non-voters, and there was also a larger (positive) gap between those that favored versus disapproved of the latter proposal.

So far so good. But then, poll respondents were asked a bizarre trade-related question: would they favor a hypothetical Democratic or hypothetical Republican proposal on trade that were characterized as follows:

On trade and exports, the Democratic leaders say we need to double our exports over the next five years, that requires ending subsidies to corporations that send jobs abroad, passing trade agreements to open markets, enforcing an even playing field for US companies, and working globally to limit trade imbalances.
OR
On trade and exports, the Republican leaders say we need to increase our exports, and that requires passing more trade agreements, getting government out of the way. American workers can compete and win with any workers across the world.

When given these binary alternatives, more voting respondents favored the GOP proposal, while more non-voting respondents favored the Dem proposal.

But note that both hypothetical positions describe "passing trade agreements", and sound a lot alike in other ways. The Dem position in particular sounds a lot like Obama in today's New York Times, where he talks about moving forward with a U.S.-Korea trade deal as part of a job- and stability-creating recipe.

As we've written, this argument is wrong on the merits. Our past NAFTA-style agreements have been associated with slower U.S. export and job growth, and the U.S. government's own numbers show that the Korea deal will be a net negative for our goods exports, i.e. manufacturing jobs. For these reasons alone, it's hard to understand how this jumped onto Obama's to-do list, much less to the top.

But the latest Greenberg poll shows that it's also wrong on the politics. The only way for Dems to squander the significant advantage that robust fair trade advocacy brings for them is to start sounding too much like Republicans, blur the line between the parties, and insist on "passing more trade agreements."

Greenberg and CAF anticipated our argument, and tested an alternative set of messages:

On trade and exports, the Democratic leaders say, It's time to challenge countries like China that are taking our jobs, end subsidies to corporations that send jobs abroad, stop passing NAFTA-like trade deals until we have a national strategy for making things in America and exporting goods, not jobs.
OR
On trade and exports, the Republican leaders say we need to increase our exports, and that requires passing more trade agreements, getting government out of the way. American workers can compete and win with any workers across the world.

Unsurprisingly, Dems regain the upper hand when their position is described as blocking more NAFTA-like deals and aggresively creating jobs. A significantly higher percentage of voters and non-voters alike say that they "strongly support" the first statement, while support for the Republican position drops among both voters and non-voters. And, as the crosstabs on page 57-58 of this graph show, it helps Dems out especially with swing voters, independents, and their own base - all of whom are relatively more turned off by the blurry message.

This confirms what we showed earlier this week in our 182-race analysis: the best defense is a good fair trade offense.

(Disclosure: Public Citizen has no preference among the candidates for office.)

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Comments

Francis

THE FREE TRADE TRAVESTY

After listening to Billionaire Donald Trump describing the economic mess our country has been experience for years. The man has been demonized by the press and certain critics, but he doesn't have to kowtow to anybody? He is a self made entrepreneur's and has made several comments of joining the political cesspit in Washington, even confirming his intent of running for President. My personal opinion on that idea is that his business experience would be a protracted way of solving these United States fiscal problems. From his words, he is a very patriotic American and sees that the route we are taking now is into deeper financial mess. I thought as a Tea Party associate that his point of view makes perfect sense of how to extract ourselves from this unemployment quicksand? This should be the first main issue that needs to be rapidly resolved. Trump opened up his broadcast saying,

"We don't need to tell you unemployment in this country is at a nightmare level, still 9.6 percent, and that doesn't even include those who are so beaten down to have given up. What can we do? What would Donald Trump do? So how do we get jobs? Trump opened up talking about unemployment in Iowa and how "Maytag" a company famous for home appliances skipped off to Mexico. The joke on us, that there is no custom tariffs when the products, return to America? The Irony is their commodities from Mexico is really not that much cheaper? Trump added that we don't manufacturer products anymore. My example being Television manufacturing Company in Bloomington, Indiana that closed down the plant in July 1995, so hundreds of people lost their jobs, to Mexico. When relating to India, I hope that negotiators don't fall into the same Free Trade trap as--CHINA--and--MEXICO. Free trade has not been a very pleasant agenda for the majority of the impoverished Mexican farmers from mega American corporate entities?

This was the inception of the Free Trade obsession, which has developed into a sad joke in itself, on the US worker. Doesn't every loyal American realize that we are the largest consumer nation in the world? That we should demand balanced trade agreements, not the insidious treaties we have now? If the Tea Party Senators Jim DeMint, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio are listening we need to immediately renegotiate our trade agreements with every country involved, because they are laughing behind our backs. From what planet did these trade ambassador morons in our nations Department of Commerce hail from, a lunatic asylum for brain dead zombies? The imports from China are so bad; I refuse to buy them anymore. Trump goes on to say, “we make hardly anything anymore, importing things like glass, curtains So much product is made in China.

Donald, stated," We are rebuilding China. Our economy is just getting killed. And you look at China it is going through the roof. A friend of mine went to a pretty much new city in China. They said unbelievable the airport and everything else. They come back to LaGuardia. They said it is like coming into a third world country. It is horrible what has happened. So somebody is going to get smart. They talk about the economy, incentives. We are losing our jobs to other countries. You are not going to solve unemployment unless something very, very stringent is done with regard to China and other countries." Greta Van Sustern replied, so what do we do to get jobs? " I would tax Chinese products. People say that's not free trade. What is free trade when they have billions and billions of dollars of surplus over us? So we don't want free trade with people that are ripping us.


He went on to say," But they manipulated their currency so it is hard to compete with Chinese dollars, cost. What happens is the dollar versus Chinese currency is not competitive." What I would do is I would tax like 25 percent tax. You want to buy from China, that's great. But you are paying 25 percent tax. If you buy it in this country you don't have that tax. By the way, you know what is going happen? People are going to start creating jobs in this country because they are not going to pay that tax. Trump Concluded, "People tell me, Donald, that's not free trade. We don't have free trade right now. We have a country, China in particular, that is ripping us like nobody's ripped us before. And we are rebuilding China. Our country is so big in terms of what we buy that we are rebuilding China. And in 10 years to 12 years China will have a bigger economy than us which was unthinkable five years ago.


Bloggers Unite--start writing about this so called—FREE TRADE--as we must educate the people. This is--NOT--free trade? It’s a very large money tree, to cheap Chinese importers, with huge profits. Half the stuff from cut price countries is made with poor quality material, not like the far superior those once-upon-a-time goods we manufactured here. China is building the huge military complex on our dollars they take from us? America is falling beside the wayside and no country can exist on just being a service industry. The Tea party now has a solid foundation, with a growing base of Senators and Representatives. I for one are going to contact as many as I can, to push this new lease on life against both the doldrums brought on us by morose agendas of Liberal Democrats and the RNC. This issue is probably one of the most important agendas that must be enforced.


Think about this--America is so large, we could rebuild our own country in selling products across State lines. We don't even need foreign importation of goods? As for the discussion on jobs with Mr. Trump, I too think he would make a great president. It’s time the political parties come to some mutual arrangement and bring back jobs this country. Impose taxes on all foreign imports and on businesses that outsource jobs. Stop attracting illegal immigrants, by severing all welfare and government subsidies and placing painful prison sentences on businesses that hire them. Return our government to the people and leave states alone such as Arizona, to enforce their own policing laws such as SB1170. GOOGLE—Judicial Watch and learn about the corruption within our government, from the questionable special interest lobbyists. We must change this so-called Free Trade, as right now is not working for the American people.

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