Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

But millennials of all people are actually on board with Trump's trade rhetoric.

President Donald Trump is out there making moves on trade policy. He has done this, and this, and he may be doing this.

He also once did this:

Despite that Fresh Prince appearance from two decades ago, he’s not getting super high marks from voters overall. When it comes to trade, we're starting to see some splits, too. Some agree with him, and many others don’t.

According to the Pew Research Center, support for “free trade agreements” – an obtuse term – has modestly rebounded since 2016 when many prominent presidential candidates, Trump included, questioned the efficacy of standing U.S. trade policy.

Today, 52 percent of respondents think trade is a “good thing,” while 40 percent view them as bad. For comparison, just 45 percent thought positively of trade back in October.

What’s more interesting than this modest gain in approval for trade agreements is how much approval is tied to political affiliation – and how much approval based on political affiliation has changed in the past years.

For example, here’s Pew on Republicans:

In October, just 29% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said free trade agreements have been good for the U.S., down from 56% just a year-and-a-half earlier. …

Republicans also express more skepticism than Democrats about the personal economic benefits of free trade agreements. Just 35% of Republicans, compared with 54% of Democrats, currently say trade agreements have helped their finances. These views are little changed over the past year.

This is just an anecdotal observation, but before Trump was running point for the GOP, I don’t think your typical Republican-leaning voter worried too much about trade policy.

Anyway, another interesting thing Pew noted is that, free trade agreements are always viewed more positively by younger people than older adults. Majorities of those under 30 (67 percent) and ages 30 to 49 (58 percent) feel this way, while those 50 and older are much more skeptical (41 percent).

But another poll, which specifically targeted millennials (ages 18-29), returned a revealing insight. Millennials, per the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, don’t think the president is doing a good job – but three-in-five approve of Trump’s rhetoric about trade.

This is reflected in affiliation, too. Harvard found a clear majority of Republican millennials (85 percent) think ending unfair trade would make America better, but so do 50 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents.

Trump may be planning another big trade policy announcement, and soon. It will be interesting to see how the public receives it.