Eighty-one percent (81%) of voters believe free trade is at least somewhat good for the United States. A ScottRasmussen.com national survey found that 53% said free trade is good for all consumers and 78% think it helps to create jobs.
But while beliefs about free trade are generally positive, 76% also believe other countries are using trade to treat the U.S. unfairly. This suggests that a substantial number of voters simply do not believe that other countries are practicing free trade (see question wording and crosstab results).
This poll was conducted for ScottRasmussen.com on August 28-29, 2018 by HarrisX, a leading research firm specializing in online surveys (see Methodology). The statistical margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
The survey found that a plurality (43% to 27%) believe free trade benefits the poor. A majority (57%) said it benefits the rich.
Trade issues have been in focus in recent months as the Trump administration has initiated trade disputes with China, Canada, and some European nations. Those disputes have resulted in tariffs levied from all sides, increasing the prices for dozens of goods and prices for businesses and consumers. While trade disputes with Mexico appear to have been solved, not as much progress has been made with China and Canada.
On Wednesday, President Trump accused the Chinese government of trying to interfere with the U.S. midterm elections at least in part by placing sponsored editorial ads in Iowa newspapers bashing the Trump tariffs.
These poll results suggest any effort to convince the American public on trade issues should focus more on convincing them other nations are being fair as opposed to making the case for free trade overall.
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