Analysis: The Complicated Politics of Free Trade, Unrestricted Trade Makes for Strange Political Bedfellows

Source Organization: Pew Research Center


01/04/2007 - Crafting effective U.S. trade policies in an era of rapid economic globalization is tough. But the politics of free trade are even tougher - particularly for Democrats, according to a recent national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Overall, the poll found that no consensus has emerged within either party over whether free trade helps or hurts the nation's economy. As might be expected, Republicans and Democrats did hold different views on trade, on average. But these differences were typically modest. And on several key issues the partisan divide was smaller than the divisions that exist between liberals and moderate or conservative Democrats.

In a few instances these ideological differences have turned partisanship on its head, with liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans holding virtually identical views on the merits of unrestricted trade.

The Pew poll, conducted Dec. 6-10 with 1,502 randomly selected adults, found that liberal Democrats are often more likely than are party moderates or conservatives to see the advantages of free trade and to downplay or dismiss its potential negative consequences. Among Republicans, fewer and more modest differences exist between the conservative and moderate wings of the party.

Read the full analysis The Complicated Politics of Free Trade, Unrestricted Trade Makes for Strange Political Bedfellows on the Pew Research Center Web site.

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