Americans are increasingly anti-free trade, according to a new study — and even with so much anti-trade talk in the news, they still don’t know what the Trans-Pacific Partnership is.
In a survey from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Politico, a third of those polled believe global trade and free-trade agreements have directly affected their community’s economy in a negative way. The poll also revealed 46 percent of respondents thought trade with China was harming the U.S. economy.
It’s a narrative that has continued to build momentum during this election this year, with Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton — both opponents of the TPP trade agreement — talking extensively about getting tough on free trade if it doesn’t bolster U.S. jobs and manufacturing.
According to the study, though, when questioned about the TPP, 76 percent of people said they hadn’t heard of it or read anything on the deal. Of the 29 percent who had heard of TPP, 63 percent saw it unfavorably.
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It’s a revealing piece of information for the Obama administration and industry groups aiming to pass the deal in a last-ditch effort during the lame-duck session. With so few people actually in the know of the deal, it could make it easier to get through Congress and shows the limited reach of the TPP protests.
The study does reveal an important reversal on trade support from the Republican Party. Led by the Trump campaign’s anti-trade stance, the survey showed that of the 33 percent who believe global trade has harmed their community, respondents were 47 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of Democrats.
Another insight into the widespread dissatisfaction driving the election is that Americans believe the economic recovery remains sluggish. The poll showed 24 percent of respondents believe that the economy has stayed the same since the 2008 financial crisis, and 32 percent said it has gotten worse.