US support for tariff barriers remains high

US Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has caused controversy this week because of his aggressive stance on America’s economic relations with China. He recently promised, if elected, to declare China a “currency manipulator” and impose tariffs on Chinese goods, prompting fears of a trade war.
But while Romney’s comments have attracted criticism from some on his own side, who argue the US has more to lose than gain from a tariff war with China, GlobeScan’s most recent public attitudes tracking suggests that Romney’s stance on tariffs is consistent with a majority of US public opinion. Since it was initially measured in 2002, American public support for trade barriers as a way of protecting jobs has remained consistently high, rising from 60% in 2002 to 65% in 2011.
However, other findings suggest this is not part of a new mood of economic nationalism. GlobeScan’s data also show that the numbers who think that government should prevent foreign companies from buying national companies has fallen significantly since 2006. Taken together, these findings suggest that in hard economic times, the need to safeguard US jobs is winning out over both free-market doctrine and patriotic sentiment among the US public.
Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.