(Disclosure: Global Trade Watch has no preference among the candidates.)
In conventional wisdom, Michigan is one of the most fair-trade states in the nation. A recent poll found by a two-to-one margin, Michiganers were against NAFTA and the WTO, and the hottest congressional incumbent challengers in the state are focusing squarely on fair trade.
So what's a candidate that digs NAFTA and the WTO to do in Michigan? Apparently not compete there, according to the latest news on the McCain campaign's efforts in the state. According to the NYT:
Mr. McCain’s struggles in Michigan were clear at the campaign stop at a factory in Belleville in July, where he found himself peppered with questions about his support for free trade by workers who believe it has cost the state jobs.
At the same time, McCain has told an editorial board that he favors cutting off trade with Iran.
Obama, in a recent interview with the Detroit Free Press editorial board, said the following:
Q: You’ve been accused of flip-flopping on the issue of free trade. Some key advisers of yours — Bob Rubin, Jason Furman — have some strong pro-NAFTA, pro-free trade histories, yet you’ve said some pretty harsh anti-NAFTA things in the primaries and made what you said was a protest vote on CAFTA. … What specifically can and should the country do to distribute what you call the costs and benefits of globalization more equitably?
A: That last point you made is exactly where I stand about free trade. I am a free trade proponent. I strongly believe in it. But I also believe that my job as president is to promote free trade as a tool of American prosperity, and not simply assume that every free trade deal is a good deal for America. It’s not.
Click on the link for the full interview.
In other news, Zogby and the pro-NAFTA Inter-American Dialogue released a poll on NAFTA and the Colombia FTA this week. While there's been some criticism of the methodology of their interactive surveys, I'll summarize some of the findings here below.
- By margin of nearly three-to-one, likely voters believe that the United States should revise or withdraw from NAFTA. I’ll call this combination of positions the “anti-NAFTA” position.
- Anti-NAFTA voters outnumber pro-NAFTA (“leave it the same”) voters in every demographic group, regardless of party affiliation, region, age, race, union membership status, whether they come from a small or large town or rural area, marital and parental status, religion, gender, education and income level, passport possession status, whether they identify as being a resident of “my city or town,” “America,” or “Planet Earth,” and frequency of shopping at Wal-Mart … even voters that identify as NASCAR fans and the investor class match the pattern.
- The demographics that most identify with anti-NAFTA sentiment were progressives (81%), liberals (71%), Democrats (71%), union members (68%) and those that never shop at Wal-Mart (66%) – which one might expect. But similarly anti-NAFTA were self-described internationalists (residents of “Planet Earth,” 71%) and Hispanics (65%). This undercuts the claim sometimes made by pundits that anti-NAFTA sentiment is motivated by xenophobia. Other particularly anti-NAFTA groups were those with incomes of between $25-35 thousand a year (67%), divorcees/widowers, and those that did not identify with Judeo-Christian religion (both 65%). These percentages factor in both pro-NAFTA and unsure/unfamiliar responses.
- The demographics that least identify with anti-NAFTA sentiment are Asians (49%), and those that identify as conservative or very conservative in ideology (46% each). While anti-NAFTA sentiment does not garner majority support in these demographics, anti-NAFTA sentiment still outranks pro-NAFTA sentiment once the unsure/unfamiliar are excluded.
- Speaking of which, pundits sometimes claim that most or many people are pro/unsure/unfamiliar on NAFTA, so that candidates would better off avoiding the topic. But the Zogby poll contradicts this notion. With the exception of those demographics noted above, anti-NAFTA sentiment tops 50% support for every demographic.
- By a margin of around 2.5 to one, Catholics and voters in the armed forces are more anti- than pro-NAFTA. Both are considered important demographics in this election.
The Zogby poll also asked questions about what the U.S. Congress should do about the Colombia FTA.
- Anti-FTA voters (those that wanted the FTA defeated or revised) outnumbered pro-FTA voters by 2.3 to 1.
- Anti-FTA voters outnumbered pro-FTA voters in every demographic group, regardless of party affiliation, region, age, race, union membership status, whether they come from a small or large town or rural area, marital and parental status, religion, gender, education and income level, passport possession status, whether they identify as being a resident of “my city or town,” “America,” or “Planet Earth,” and frequency of shopping at Wal-Mart … even voters that identify as NASCAR fans and the investor class match the pattern.
- The only demographic exceptions – which were nonetheless close to evenly split were among those that identified as Republican or conservative. But voters farther to the right – the “very conservative” and “libertarian” – agreed with their more progressive fellow voters.
- Because of the relatively high numbers of Americans who are unfamiliar/unsure on the Colombia FTA, there were few demographic groups were the anti-FTA position topped 50%. Among those were anti-FTA topped 50% were: progressives (64%), internationalists (56%), liberals (55%), those that never shop at Wal-Mart and in civil unions (both 54%), Democrats (53%), and African-Americans (51%).