Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

A new poll suggests voters in the "rust belt" aren't, either.

Two major labor leaders today laid out their case against Donald Trump in an opinion.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers (full disclosure: a founding member of the Alliance for American Manufacturing), are scathing in their assessment of the GOP presidential nominee:

Pittsburgh played a prominent role in America’s Industrial Revolution with its once-booming steel industry. But while the city’s Steel City moniker remains, the industry’s glory days are long over. Yet Donald Trump tells Pittsburghers to trust him: Vote for him and he will turn back the clock. “It’s Steel City, and when I’m president, guess what? Steel is coming back to Pittsburgh,” he proclaimed at a rally in April.

In this unconventional, topsy-turvy election, Mr. Trump is preying on the emotions of Americans who want to believe he will bring back an industry that’s diminished due to a combination of technology, deindustrialization, globalization and decades of unfair trade. But Mr. Trump doesn’t tell you how he’ll address any of this. He just exploits Americans’ legitimate anxiety.

The opinion ends with an endorsement of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. But most of the op-ed is instead spent on fightin’ words, as Gerard and Weingarten call out Trump over what has arguably been the steadiest plank in his platform: trade policy criticism.

Trump talks trade in terms that aren’t normally associated with a national Republican.

“I'm going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers,” he said in a speech in June. “And I don't mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better.”

And it’s that tough talk that is presumably why Trump is considered palatable to voters in industrial states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.

Right?

Well … Reuters talked to voters across those states, and when it comes to trade it appears they prefer Hillary Clinton. In Michigan, 40 percent said Clinton “would be better equipped to address trade, compared with 36 percent for Trump.”

In Ohio, it’s 45 percent for Clinton compared for 38 percent for Trump, and the same result posted in Pennsylvania.

It’s important to note these results are only on the issue of trade. Other polls of all likely voters show mixed results – Clinton leads in Michigan and Pennsylvania, for instance, while Trump is slightly up in the Buckeye State.   

It's pretty clear what Gerard and Weingarten think of Donald Trump and his trade rhetoric. We’ll see how how many of our  fellow Americans agree with them in a few days.

You can read the whole op-ed here.