Support for TPP Grows as Americans Become More Familiar With Trade Deal

Americans are paying more attention to the debate over the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership as the general-election season kicks off, but they’re split on whether they support the trade deal, according to a new Morning Consult poll.

Still, more than half (62 percent) of registered voters surveyed from Aug. 8 through Aug. 10 said they had heard little or nothing about the agreement, which would cut tariffs in the trade bloc and establish new rules on issues such as intellectual property, labor and government subsidies. If Congress approves TPP, the pact with trading partners such as Japan, Malaysia, Canada and Mexico would be a major addition to President Obama’s foreign and economic policy legacy.

More than a third of those surveyed (35 percent) either somewhat support or strongly support the accord, compared with the 22 percent who oppose it. Forty-three percent either didn’t know how they felt about it or had no opinion.

This month’s results mark a slight shift in TPP supporters’ favor when compared with a March poll that found 72 percent of surveyed registered voters either hadn’t heard of TPP or didn’t know much about it. In that survey, 29 percent of respondents opposed TPP and 26 percent supported it.

How voters feel about TPPAug. 8-10March 11-16
Strongly support 10%6%
Somewhat support25%20%
Somewhat oppose13%17%
Strongly oppose9%12%
Don't know/no opinion43%45%

Both Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and GOP rival Donald Trump oppose TPP, and Trump’s opposition to the deal — which breaks from mainstream Republicans — has become a hallmark of his presidential campaign. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and his supporters also made opposition to a congressional vote on the deal in a lame-duck session of Congress a central message at the Democratic National Convention last month.

The controversy at the DNC does not appear to have limited Democratic support for TPP; 43 percent of Democrats surveyed this month said they either somewhat support or strongly support the deal. At 30 percent each, Republicans and independents are less enthusiastic about the trade pact.

Obama’s argument that TPP will stimulate economic growth appears to be gaining traction. Thirty percent of respondents say TPP will create U.S. jobs, compared with the 19 percent who think it will lead to job losses and 9 percent who think it will have no effect on the domestic labor market.

Clinton’s Economic Proposals Are More Well-Received Than Trump’s

Starker partisan splits are evident on other economic issues that Trump and Clinton have sparred on. Still, healthy majorities of registered voters supported the calls to repeal the estate tax (53 percent), impose higher rates on wealthier Americans (59 percent), give incentives for companies to share profits with workers (68 percent) and place an exit tax on companies that move overseas (64 percent).


Trump’s Monday announcement that he wants a temporary moratorium on new federal regulations, which includes financial rules, has the backing of almost half (47 percent) of surveyed Republican voters. The proposal is less popular with Democrats — 28 percent support, 37 percent oppose — and independents, with 29 percent support and 30 percent opposition. Thirty-five percent of all registered voters support the regulation moratorium, while 30 percent oppose it and the remaining 36 percent didn’t have an opinion.

Republicans, at 55 percent, were much more likely to support Trump’s proposal to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. Just 36 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats backed that plan.

The poll was conducted among a national sample of 1,998 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. See toplines and crosstabs.


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