May 20, 2008
Trade as a General Election Issue

I've said before it would be unlikely that trade will be a major issue in the Presidential campaign. That's still probably true, but for a couple reasons it could still be a significant one.

As a straight issue, the economic populists are normally going win an argument with the voters in what at least feels like a gloomy economic year. Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee, however, gives John McCain an opening.

1) The politics of Democratic opposition to pending trade deals and NAFTA is so grossly beholden to liberal special interests (especially organized labor) that it gives McCain an opportunity to decry the "old politics" of the supposedly post-partisan healer. With Hillary Clinton it would just be a debate about economic policy.

2) The near unanimity of MSM editorial board agreement with the pro-free trade position gives the Republican a unique chance to score points on a topic that the bulk of relevant media voices and the pundit class don't agree with the Democratic nominee. Not going to be many of those this year.

Posted by Eric Earling at May 20, 2008 07:36 AM | Email This
Comments
1. My stocks have bounced back 10% from their lows recently and now only down about 10% from its highs.
Economy seems to be plugging along despite what the Democrats want.

Posted by: swatter on May 20, 2008 07:27 AM
2. I would agree that trade will be an issue of difference between the candidates. How it plays out in the election contests, however, will depend on how the economy does in different areas?

Trade is one of the issues that helps some areas and hurts other areas. I can't see how pro-Trade stance will help McCain in the Rust Belt, but it could help him out West here. It will also have an opposite effect for Obama.

The real key will how much the trade issue gets tied to economic issues overall and how the economy is doing. James Carville at his finest still probably has to overall best campaign slogan with "It's the economy stupid."

Posted by: tc on May 20, 2008 08:09 AM
3. When Clinton used that term, he was running against Bush. Is Obama running against Bush? McCain still is.

And then there is the emperor's wink-wink to Canada when he slams the present free trade agreements.

But, tc, you are entirely correct. The dumb Republicans won't jump on the trade bandwagon and will instead play the role of the abused spouse and take all the insults thrown at them by the liberals.

Posted by: swatter on May 20, 2008 08:47 AM
4. It will be very hard (if not impossible) for the Republicans to keep Democrats from referring to this as Pres Bush's 3rd term. :)

Posted by: Duffman on May 20, 2008 09:03 AM
5. How odd, Dem's loved NAFTA when billy boy was in charge.

How they forget.

Posted by: Army Medic/Vet on May 20, 2008 09:11 AM
6. McCain traded US jobs for French ones.He has lobbyists from EADS on his staff.

Even if you agree with EADS getting the tanker contract, this will not be a positive issue for McCain in WA.


Posted by: ExPatBrit on May 20, 2008 10:14 AM
7. Off topic for a bit: Prayers and Good Wishes to Sen Kennedy.

Posted by: Duffman on May 20, 2008 10:24 AM
8. ^ Yes indeed. May Sen Kennedy see Jesus soon!

*my apologies Eric.

Posted by: boxxerace on May 20, 2008 11:21 AM
9. For what it's worth (and gathering from the Ohio democratic primary debates, it's not worth much) free trade is the most important Presidential issue for me in this election, and that's why I will be voting for John McCain, concerns over other issues notwithstanding.

Posted by: Paul G on May 20, 2008 11:51 AM
10. My prayers for Ted Kennedy. It's to bad he didn't care about the woman he let drown as he walked away from his drunk driving crash.

Posted by: Army Medic/Vet on May 20, 2008 12:00 PM
11. How odd, Dem's loved NAFTA when billy boy was in charge.

That was prior to Perot's "giant sucking sound" prediction actually happening. Of course the jobs went to China & India, Mexico didn't fare as well.

Posted by: Cato on May 20, 2008 03:17 PM
12. I think #1 has it right.

I mean, for 20 years, we told the "Government" to get out of business. Now people are whining about how they should "do something" because their speculative investments aren't making them rich while they watch television.

In the end, the job of President goes to the guy who keeps the soda machine running.

Posted by: John Bailo on May 20, 2008 03:19 PM
13. Cato,

When did that "giant sucking sound" occur? Because the statistics don't show it happening. I know, inconvenient facts again...

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on May 20, 2008 08:14 PM
14. What an echo chamber. "Free trade" is an issue McCain will lose on. The only people who like free trade are the elites in government who will never be affected by it and the major shareholders of multinational corporation that profit from it.

A recent poll -

The PIPA poll shows that among Americans making more than $100,000 a year, support for actively promoting more free trade collapsed from 57% to less than half that, 28%. There were smaller drops, averaging less than 7 percentage points, in income brackets below $70,000, where support for free trade was already weaker.

You guys sure know how to pick the losing issues!

Posted by: M&M on May 21, 2008 12:19 PM
15. What an echo chamber.

"Free trade" is a losing issue as shown by a recent poll.

The PIPA poll shows that among Americans making more than $100,000 a year, support for actively promoting more free trade collapsed from 57% to less than half that, 28%. There were smaller drops, averaging less than 7 percentage points, in income brackets below $70,000, where support for free trade was already weaker.


You guys sure know how to pick losing issues.

Posted by: M&M on May 21, 2008 12:22 PM
16. M&M - you're not quite as smart as the candy coating, are you?

Are you referring to this USA Today report about the PIPA poll, that explicitly states the line:

The PIPA poll shows that among Americans making more than $100,000 a year, support for actively promoting more free trade collapsed from 57% to less than half that, 28%. There were smaller drops, averaging less than 7 percentage points, in income brackets below $70,000, where support for free trade was already weaker.

Because it's pretty clear why you didn't reference the actual article. It's from FEBRUARY 2004! Yes, good relevance to today, over FOUR YEARS later...

Want to see the updated poll from PIPA? It's here, where you will find this nice graph.

Wow, 70% of the US population believe that free enterprise and free markets are the best system to base the future on.

So not only are you a obfuscating troll by bringing up 4 YEAR OLD polls, but you're essentially lying by claiming they apply today (when the current poll - just a month old - shows the opposite of your position).

You can go sit in the corner with your friend Cato who suddenly went quiet about that "giant sucking sound" when presented with the facts...

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on May 21, 2008 04:39 PM
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