Poll: Majority of Americans very skeptical of free trade

A new national survey by the Pew Research Center reveals the ongoing concerns Americans have regarding free trade.

Despite the sustained lobbying efforts of corporatists over three decades, the public is still not sold on free trade – the issue that cost the GOP the 1992 presidential election and ushered in the Clinton dynasty.

More Americans think free trade slows the economy down (34 percent) than makes it grow (31 percent), although this is a higher level of support for free trade than was seen in similar polls from 2009 and 2010.

Even greater skepticism is present with respect to the effects of free trade on wages:

On the other hand, there has been no improvement since 2010 in opinions about the effect of free trade agreements on wages. Currently, 46% say free trade deals make the wages of American workers lower, while just 11% say they lead to higher wages (33% say they do not make a difference). The share saying that trade agreements drive down wages is largely unchanged since 2010, when 45% said they made wages lower.

“In addition, trade agreements continue to be seen as doing more to cost jobs than create them,” the report said.

Only 17 percent of respondents think free trade creates jobs in the U.S., versus 46 percent who say American job losses are the net result.

Among Republicans, 51 percent believe that trade agreements lead to job losses, compared to just 15 percent who believe they create jobs.  Half of Republicans feel that the agreements make U.S. wages lower; just 10 percent take the opposite view and say trade agreements lead to higher American wages.

There is an equal split in the Republican camp on whether trade agreements make prices higher (32 percent) or lower (36 percent).  Forty percent of GOP supporters indicated that trade agreements slow the U.S. economy, compared to only 28 percent who said they result in economic growth.