Scott Sumner  

Americans are becoming increasing supportive of trade and immigration

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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.



COMMENTS (12 to date)
Jeff writes:

I suspect that much of the anti-globalization sentiment in the Republican Party is a result of Trump's success, rather than the other way around. There's a lot of tribalism and rooting for the home team in politics. Not many people have the ability or inclination to really analyze policy positions.

Nick Bradley writes:

Democrats have become the centrist party of free trade, immigration, sensible investments in public goods, and reasonable regulations to deal with externalities and financial grift.

The GOP is now just a backwards nativist party that rejects science and empiricism - including economics.

Scott Sumner writes:

Nick, There's plenty of rejection of science on both sides.

shecky writes:

Sadly, the "both sides do it" plea rings more and more hollow with every passing day, it seems.

David R. Henderson writes:

@shecky,
Sadly, the "both sides do it" plea rings more and more hollow with every passing day, it seems.
You missed the point. Scott was not pleading. I know him well enough to know that he was simply stating a fact, not defending one side being anti-science because the other one does also.

Richard writes:
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.

I doubt this. Recently saw a poll that said 70% never heard of it, most of the rest were opposed.

Benjamin Cole writes:

Well, Americans like trade, but not in their own neighborhoods, or around their zoned retail ground-floor space.

Obviously, many Americans prefer to live in commercial deserts, single-family detached districts sans retail activities of any sort, nor any office buildings or warehouses.

Property zoning is not enough; push-cart and truck-vending are criminalized also.

Businesses and people with the heft to create global enterprises back free trade. They have the money to finance extensive PR efforts, finance studies etc.

I happen to support free trade in general, but ponder the realities of free trade in a nation with extensive property zoning, and which runs chronic $500 billion a year trade deficits.

And free trade for real people, you know guys who would like to open a soup-stand on the sidewalk, or sell some clothes?

That is not a topic of polite conversation.

Orthodox macroeconomists in the US, in general, have selective myopia.

Lorenzo from Oz writes:

There might also be other aspects driving The Donald phenomenon than immigration and trade. It might not be quite so much any particular aspect of change as a feeling that (1) "their" government is not on their side like it used to while (2) having to deal with increased cultural hostility within the US and that (1) and (2) are connected.

Glen Smith writes:

Given the switch in the view of immigration, I'd think that it is about who sees the immigrants as a threat. In 2002 if you worked hard and were good at your job, there was no threat to your job. Once the threat to your job passes (either you accept the new reality that you are junk or are able to find a new career), you focus on the benefits as most of the costs are already paid. I also see the effect of marginalization of the threatened group as it gets flooded out by the previous wave of immigrants. Finally, there is a large group whose jobs are not threatened (either because of the nature of their job or because they are among the great at their job) or may even quickly benefit.

Scott Sumner writes:

shecky, Check out the science of gender differences:

https://econjwatch.org/articles/undoing-insularity-a-small-study-of-gender-sociology-s-big-problem

Michael Stack writes:

I suspect the reason that Trump's anti-trade and anti-immigration message resonates so strongly with his supporters is because his supporters sense (correctly) that they live in a world with increasing immigration and trade.

It is exactly because these things are more popular that the opponents get angrier. I'm reminded of support for, and opposition to gay marriage.

pyroseed13 writes:

I think it's pretty obvious that Democrats only like immigration because they are interested in creating a new class of voters that will ensure that Democrats are elected for years to come.

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