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Americans are becoming increasing supportive of trade and immigration

Author(s): Scott Sumner

From Library of Economics and Liberty:

The Financial Times has a report that Americans are becoming increasing supportive of globalization:

While Donald Trump has called for a rewrite of US trade deals and moots the imposition of tariffs on imports from China and Mexico, two in three Americans still believe globalisation is "mostly good" for the US, according to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

That represents an increase since the Great Recession and one of the strongest readings the Chicago Council has found. The majority of the population also supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement which Mr Trump has denounced and Hillary Clinton has said does not meet her standards, it said in a report released on Thursday.


This reminds me of pot legalization---the people strongly support it, while the leaders of both parties are opposed. If only we had a democracy.

Americans are also less and less likely to worry about the effects of immigration:

The survey found a deep divide among voters on the critical topic of immigration -- one of the driving forces behind Mr Trump's support.

No fewer than 67 per cent of Republicans said they thought immigration was a "critical threat" to the US, compared with only 27 per cent of Democrats. In 2002 the positions were reversed, with 62 per cent of Democrats seeing it as a threat and 58 per cent of Republicans.


If you average the Democrat and Republican numbers, you get 60% seeing immigration as a critical threat in 2002, vs. only 47% today. That may be because the largest number of immigrants now come from Asia and tend to do well economically, whereas back in 2002 most came from places like Mexico, which led to anxiety about a new underclass of poor Americans.

So how can we explain the Trump phenomenon?

While a greater share of Republicans than Democrats were supporters of globalisation in 2006, today the position is sharply reversed. Three-quarters of Democrats put themselves in that category, compared with 59 per cent of Republicans and less than half of Mr Trump's supporters.

It's clear that Trump (and Bernie Sanders) have a hard core of support for their anti-trade message, but the country as a whole is becoming increasingly pro-trade.


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