Voters are demanding Washington focus on job creation.

Make it in America: new polling shows manufacturing seen as the most important industry to the American economy.

January 2014 • Conducted by the Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research. The bipartisan survey of 1,200 likely 2014 general election voters was conducted January 6-9, 2014 by the Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research, firms that poll for Democratic and Republican candidates respectively. The findings include results from focus groups held during November and December 2013 in Portland, OR, Des Moines, IA, and Louisville, KY.

Summary of Findings:

  • Jobs, particularly in manufacturing, top voters’ agendas.
  • Voters see their leaders as more of an obstacle to job growth than a help.
  • Manufacturing is seen as the most critical component of our economy.
  • Support for American manufacturing and manufacturers is nearly universal.
  • China is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, not ignored.
  • Outsourcing is the most important cause of lost manufacturing jobs.
  • Tax dollars spent on infrastructure should stay here.
  • Voters support a manufacturing agenda, including worker training programs, tougher trade policies, keeping tax dollars here, and incentivizing companies to move jobs back to the U.S.
  • Most support a career in manufacturing; but uncertainty about the future is an impediment.

Manufacturing job loss is the top concern among voters.

Voters see manufacturing as the single most important sector in the American economy, surpassing high tech, healthcare, and financial services.

Manufacturing = Economy

Voters reject the idea that manufacturing jobs can be replaced by high tech and service jobs by a 62-34 margin.

72% of likely voters are “worried the most” or a “great deal” about manufacturing job loss, a level of concern matched only by the federal budget deficit.

By a 2-1 margin, voters favor a focus on job creation over deficit reduction.

  • Support for job creation has increased by 5 percentage points among all voters since 2012 (rising from 60% to 65%).
  • Republican voters are nearly evenly split between job creation (47%) and deficit reduction (48%).

Voters see U.S. policies as the #1 obstacle to manufacturing job creation.

By more than 20 percentage points, voters see these government policies as the main obstacle to manufacturing job creation:

  • 30% of voters blame U.S. economic policies that encourage outsourcing.
  • 15% of voters blame the lack of a national manufacturing strategy to compete with China and other countries.
Pie chart image

Voters see the President as doing even less for manufacturing in 2014 than he did in 2012:

  • Voters who believe President Obama is doing “some” or “a great deal” to create manufacturing jobs fell from 56% to 47%.
  • 56%
  • Voters who believe President Obama is doing “some” or “a great deal” to enforce trade also fell from 52% to 44%.
  • 52%

Voters see Congress as doing even less in 2014 for manufacturing than they did in 2012:

  • Voters who believe Congressional Democrats are doing “some” or “a great deal” to create manufacturing jobs fell from 46% to 40%; on trade enforcement it declined from 47% to 38%.
  • 46%
  • Voters who believe Congressional Republicans are doing “some” or “a great deal” to create manufacturing jobs dropped from 39% to 28%; on trade enforcement it fell from 37% to 34%.
  • 39%

Outsourcing, not a skills shortage, is seen as the most important cause of lost manufacturing jobs.

65% of voters consider outsourcing as the reason for a lack of new manufacturing jobs. Only 28% of voters cite a potential shortage of skilled workers for the lack of new manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

50% of voters say more manufacturing jobs are leaving the country than returning, 13% say there is a “reshoring” trend, and 27% say manufacturing jobs are returning and leaving at the same rate.

Outsourcing graphic

Voters overwhelmingly support Buy-American policies and a national manufacturing strategy.

4 out of 5 voters favor spending state and federal tax dollars on American-made goods whenever possible, with 67% strongly in favor.

4 out of 5

60% of voters say the U.S. needs to “get tough” with countries like China in order to halt “unfair trade practices, including currency manipulation, which will keep undermining our economy,” A 2-1 margin over “being cautious.” Among Republican voters, the number saying “get tough” rises to 64%.

84% of voters support a national manufacturing strategy to “make sure that economic, tax, education and trade policies in this country work together to help support manufacturing.” This includes:


Across the political spectrum, voters strongly support:

Federal and state worker training programs
Enforcing trade agreements
Cracking down on unfairly subsidized imports
Tax incentives for manufacturer investments

Voters universally value American manufacturing, its workers and products.

Comparison graphic

44% of voters favor strengthening the entire U.S. manufacturing sector.

  • Favorability of American manufacturing drops 20% points when the term “advanced” is included.
  • A majority thinks we should focus on all of manufacturing rather than just advanced manufacturing.

Voters recognize the benefits of a career in manufacturing.

Support jobs graphic65% of voters would encourage manufacturing as a career choice, though only 25% strongly encourage such a career choice.

Among voters who would not encourage manufacturing as a career choice, the top reasons cited were the desire to get a four year college degree and the belief that those jobs won’t be there in the future.

Voters have spoken.
Let's put Washington to work.