Poll Finds Widespread Opposition To Free Trade

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Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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WASHINGTON — A poll released Thursday found widespread American opposition to free trade.

“All you have to do is read these to understand what’s happening in America,” said Pat Caddell, who conducted the poll for Americans for Limited Government.

The poll surveyed registered 1,950 U.S. voters online from late February to early March. It oversampled for white men, and women without college degrees.

The poll found that once Republican voters heard more details about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, 66 percent of them opposed it. More than half of respondents said they did not know enough about TPP to comment initially.

Sen. [crscore]Jeff Sessions[/crscore] was at the National Press Club for the announcement of the poll results. “So is this some blind irrational nativist complaint?” he asked. “Or is it really true that trade agreements that are being negotiated aren’t effectively protecting American interests?”

The Alabama senator continued to say, “As Mitt Romney said, in his primary eight years ago, he had a great great line I can still quote it. His line was ‘if you don’t stand up to China, they will run over you. If you stand up to China, they will say it’s a trade war, but we’re in a trade war. We’re just not fighting.’ And then he said this: ‘And anyway they have more to lose than we do.'”

“So when you go into a negotiation you need to know who has the upper hand,” said Sessions.

More than 70 percent of Democrats, independents and Republicans polled agreed that “that same political elite who have been rigging the political process in Washington are the same ones that have been rigging trade deals that hurt Americans, but benefit themselves.”

Three out of four respondents agreed with the following statement: “Our economic and trade policies should always put American needs and American jobs first, before the needs of other countries or big corporations.”

A similar number agreed with this statement: “While increasing international trade has led to cheaper goods, it doesn’t matter how cheap they are if I don’t have a good paying job.”

Caddell, who previously was an adviser in the Carter administration, said that if either Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are not in the election in the fall, and trade is kept out of the conversation, “God help this country.”

“[Trump] is not the independent variable in this equation. The independent variable is the American people who have decided they want change and they are alienated. Donald Trump is, if you will, the dependent variable in this. He stepped into something,” said Caddell.

“There will be something coming, and it may be be much more dynamic. I’ve always worried about this. You cannot ignore American opinion this way,” he continued. “The American people frankly want their sovereignty back.”

Overall, 76 percent of those polled agree with the statement: “The United States is not an ordinary nation; America stands apart from all other countries and we should protect our unique character in the world.”

At the same time, 68 percent of those polled — and 89 percent of Republicans — believe America is in a “state of decline.”

While white men are usually seen as the “angry” voters, the poll found that white women without college degrees were the most likely to believe the country is in a state of decline — 76 percent of them agreed with this sentiment.

Only 10 percent of voters polled believed that in the U.S “everyone more of less plays by the same rules to get ahead.”

The poll also found that 61 percent of voters agreed that “people like me don’t really have much say about how the government works.”

Slides- Press Conference – 10 March 2016