Working Class Voters Determined This Election. Now What Do Voters Want from Washington?

Tags Infrastructure Jobs Trade

Manufacturing, infrastructure, reforming trade policy unite strong majorities of Trump and Clinton voters

Washington, D.C. – Revitalizing U.S. manufacturing, fixing trade deals, and making significant investments in restoring the nation’s infrastructure should be Washington’s focus as lawmakers set priorities for their first 100 days, according to new polling data.

“America comes away from this election as a deeply divided nation, but policies to boost manufacturing bring voters together,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), which commissioned the research. “As the new president heads to the White House, the question now is what voters want – and as this poll suggests, that road leads to jobs. When Washington enforces trade policy and invests in infrastructure, Americans are put to work.”

The national survey, conducted by The Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research (firms that poll for Democratic and Republican candidates respectively) found that 85 percent of those surveyed support a national manufacturing strategy. Support for a manufacturing strategy is robust among both Trump voters (89 percent) and Clinton voters (83 percent).

Manufacturing may have been an election-determining factor as Trump won manufacturing households by 18 points with Clinton winning non-manufacturing households by 4 points. With even four more manufacturing points, Clinton could have secured the electoral college.

It comes as no surprise that by more than a two-to-one margin voters believe manufacturing is critical to our future and reject the notion that high-tech or services could take its place.

“The biggest surprise on election night came from the Industrial Heartland,” Paul said. “Manufacturing is the engine that drives the heartland’s economy. The good news is that Trump and Clinton voters alike want to get it back on track.”

Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of voters were very worried that “too many jobs are being shipped overseas,” and more than two-thirds (68 percent) are very concerned that America has lost too many manufacturing jobs in this country.

Sizable majorities – nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of those polled – expressed strong support for investing federal funds to ensure that revitalizing the nation’s infrastructure is made in America, while only a small minority (12 percent) shared concerns that such investments would increase deficits.

The bipartisan survey also showed that significant majorities in both parties support cracking down on unfair trade practices (63 percent), offer more job training for workers (78 percent), and reforming the tax code to encourage U.S. manufacturers to invest here (71 percent). 

Tougher Trade Enforcement Endorsed by Trump, Clinton Backers

Unfair trade practices, particularly those employed by China, were also revealed to be a chief concern of respondents. Sixty-three percent of voters – including 54 percent of Clinton voters and 71 percent of Trump voters – want strong enforcement responses should China violate its trade agreements, and 55 percent of all voters are in favor of creating a special trade prosecutor to enforce trade cases involving China. By a 55-35 margin, voters agree that we need to get tough on China and reject arguments that it would cause a “trade war.”

Voters were in favor of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement as well. Sixty-two percent of all participants said the agreement should be revisited to ensure other countries aren’t disadvantaging the United States, with 78 percent of Republicans, and majorities of independents (56 percent) and Democrats (51 percent) in agreement.

High Regard for American Manufacturing Workers and Companies

The survey also revealed that nearly universally, voters have a highly favorable view of American manufactured goods, American factory workers, as well as American manufacturing companies. These positive assessments are shared by members of both parties, supporters of both candidates, and across all demographic categories – in stark contrast to largely unfavorable views of Wall Street banks.

“Manufacturing has built the middle class and positioned us as a global economic superpower,” Paul said. “American-made is a source of pride. It represents quality and it represents jobs. That’s why voters are expecting Washington to take action. Trade and manufacturing matter.”

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