In addition to the fallout for congressional Democrats, the economic and political turbulence of 2010 has also damaged public support for free trade.
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that 69 percent of Americans believe free trade agreements with other countries have cost jobs in the United States, while just 18 percent believe they have created jobs. A 53 percent majority—up from 46 percent three years ago and 30 percent in 1999—believes that trade agreements have hurt the nation overall.
Moreover, that rising skepticism extends across the political spectrum—a sign that continued trade expansion may be no easier for Republican leaders to promote if they regain control of Congress than it has been for Democrats.
While 65 percent of union members say free trade has hurt the U.S., so do 61 percent of Tea Party sympathizers. Democratic pollster Peter Hart and his Republican counterpart Bill McInturff, who conduct the NBC/WSJ poll, say the greatest shift against free trade has come among relatively affluent Americans, or those earning more than $75,000 a year.
That sentiment represents an obstacle for leaders of American business—who favor trade expansion—and for President Obama. His administration has made export expansion a key element of his economic strategy and is pushing, albeit belatedly, to complete a new trade deal with South Korea later this year.Page 1 of 3 | Next Page