Public Opinion and Trump’s Jobs and Trade Policies

Public opinion on the economy and trade played an important role in Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election. Trump emphasized the connection between these issues, and his vocal criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) likely contributed directly to his success, particularly among Midwestern voters in key swing states. If Trump keeps his campaign promises, he will likely pursue a threefold approach to international trade: renegotiating agreements, particularly with China and Mexico, to create more favorable terms for the United States; ending discussion of new trade agreements; and changing the tax system to incentivize American companies to return to the United States.

This article examines in particular what public opinion during the 2016 presidential election is likely to mean for trade policy during the administration of President Donald Trump. Understanding the background of these electoral circumstances provides insight into the new administration’s overall attitudes toward international trade agreements and their likely efforts in shaping new trade policy for the United States. CONT.

Robert J. Blendon, Logan S. Casey & John M. Benson (Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health), Challenge