WSJ poll on foreign trade — respondents say it’s bad for economy

Another blow to proponents of more open trade. The Wall Street Journal reported today that a poll of Republican primary voters showed that almost 60 percent thought that foreign trade has been bad for the US economy. And it’s no wonder, with some presidential aspirants, policymakers and pundits telling the tall tale that trade is responsible for just about every job loss in the past ten years. Here are some of the findings of the poll:

Six in 10 Republicans in the poll agreed with a statement that free trade has been bad for the U.S. and said they would agree with a Republican candidate who favored tougher regulations to limit foreign imports. That represents a challenge for Republican candidates who generally echo Mr. Bush’s calls for continued trade expansion, and reflects a substantial shift in sentiment from eight years ago.

Here are results of an earlier poll of Democratic voters as reported in the WSJ article:

Other leading Democrats have been harshly critical of trade expansion, pleasing their party’s labor-union backers. In a March 2007 WSJ/NBC poll, before recent scandals involving tainted imports, 54% of Democratic voters said free-trade agreements have hurt the U.S., compared with 21% who said they have helped.

Guess the only people left supporting free trade are free market policy wonks like us, most economists, and most editorial page editors. But we obviously having been making our points to appeal to a wider audience.