July 1st, 2008
12:19 PM ET
13 years ago

In challenge to McCain, majority against free trade

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/01/art.mccainpoll.ap.jpg caption=" McCain tours the Worth and Company factory in Pipersville, Pennsylvania, Monday."]

(CNN) - As John McCain prepares to promote the advantages of free trade during a high-profile trip to Colombia and Mexico, a poll released Tuesday suggests the issue may pose a political hurdle for the Arizona senator as the general election campaign heats up.

According to the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 51 percent of the Americans questioned view foreign trade as a threat to the economy - the first time in a CNN poll that a majority of respondents report holding negative views on free trade.

Read full poll results [PDF]

That compares to only 35 percent of those asked who felt that free trade posed a threat to the economy in 2000, and 48 percent who felt it was a threat in 2006.

Now only four in 10 the Americans questioned say free trade presents an opportunity for economic growth, a sentiment that clearly makes the issue a challenge for McCain, especially in the crucial Rust Belt states most affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs over the last decade.

Election Center: Check out where McCain, Obama stand on trade

"It's possible that John McCain's decision to highlight his free-trade position may wind up losing him some votes among Americans who feel threatened economically by competition from other countries," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Recent polls in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan have shown McCain well behind Barack Obama. Calling attention to his stand on an issue like trade may be a part of the problems he apparently faces in those Midwestern states."

Full story

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. Canadian View

    Your a bunch of sorry -- poeple.
    You print only what you want and no Canadian opposite view

    Its time you relized that your not the only ones hurt with NAFTA and stop buying out canadain firms , stripping them down and sending them to Mexico to build the pockets of the right wing conservatives who don't care about enyone but thier pockets and bottom line

    July 1, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  2. Upon Further Review,Texas

    Two dollars an day for new hire mexican auto workers,a level playing field?

    July 1, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  3. Auburn

    There are so many ways that foreign investment and free trade continue to take away good U.S. jobs – whether the jobs are exported or whether the non U.S. holding companies decide to use non-U.S. workers for jobs in the U.S.; add that to profits from foreign holding investments leaving the U.S. and we are getting hit many ways. Free trade is not free and what about the concept for Fair Trade – shouldn't the scales of fairness and justice be balanced for both sides of the deal? I wish Congress, presidents, and the current candidates would understand that American Citizens are very angry about this and we are not for sale!

    July 1, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  4. maurice

    Obama is a master at telling people exactly what they want to hear.
    Does that make him a good president?I think not!

    July 1, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. katiec

    We have to stop all the perks and tax breaks we have given
    corporations for locating overseas. The government has
    made it very desirable for them to move their businesses
    out of the country,.
    And, our government should not be allowed to farm out
    work to foreign countries. We need jobs here in the U.S
    and are very capable to doing the work that they are
    giving to India etc.

    July 1, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  6. Jim

    Obama is on the record supporting free trade as well, but somehow this poll only "hurts" McCain? Give me a break.

    And for those of you concerned about "outsourcing" – check the data during the last Democratic administration – the graph goes straight up....

    July 1, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. mitchell hussein martin

    obama wants to renegotiate free trade deals,to make them more fair for america.mccain wants to keep making deals that send our jobs to other countries.

    July 1, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. Johntfs

    Has anyone gotten around to discussing the negatives of John McCain's Vietnam experience regarding his foreign policy position, especially regarding the Iraq war? I recall reading an article in a recent Sunday New York Times discussing McCain's report to the military after his release from captivity. He plainly states that he believed the Vietnam War failed largely because the military and the administrations at the time did not properly convey its importance to the rest of the country.

    It occurred to me that John McCain suffered permanent disability and harm in a war that the country effectively "chose" to "lose" and that he may see Iraq as a way to compensate for that loss. Or, at least, he may be determined not to allow the US to repeat the mistake of Vietnam – giving up before the job is "done." However, such a narrow focus inevitably leads to tunnel vision. I think McCain is so focused on Iraq and "winning" there that he's to a degree ignoring other aspects of US foreign policy – including completing the defeat of the Taliban and Al Quaeda in Afghanistan.

    July 1, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  9. Valerie

    I'm not against free trade, but I think it needs to be structured in such a way to protect American workers & consumers.

    In other words, I agree with OBAMA!

    July 1, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. karen-phoenix

    Obama is not for free trade. He's for revamping NAFTA! Big difference. We do need international trade BUT not like it has been under Bush/Cheney!!!! Read Obama's website!!! It's great and will tell you everything about trade, energy, education, health care. If only half of this stuff gets done, we are a much, much better country!!!

    July 1, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. Can't have it both ways

    Free trade equals lower prices for consumer goods. Unfortunately, free trade also equals fewer manufacturing jobs at home and the need to re-train blue collar workers for new professions. We just need to find the right balance. Unfortunately I don't think both candidates have a solution to this problem.

    July 1, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. txpoodoo

    I think the general mindset of the American people lately is that the average person is kinda sick and tired of the US always looking at others countries backyards while our own backyard could really use some work.

    I think people are starting to realize that US involvement in EVERY world issue is starting to grow on American's nerve.

    Free trade is just one of those things that is starting to catch flak, espicially since its been pretty well documented that the trade agreements are not to the US advantage.

    July 1, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Joe - Chicago, IL

    Anyone who's taken a basic economics course can tell you that trade has the potential to benifit both people involved in the trade. The problem with free trade is that increasing our ability to consume as a nation doesn't always filter down to every level of social strata. Much like how trickle-down economics was indeed "Voodoo economics" as Bush Sr. pointed out, its not always benificial to expand the economy, especially when that expansion doesn't move down to the majority of society.

    Free-trade isn't all that free either. Its pretty hard to preach the value of international free-trade when the govornment supports anti-free market practices here at home, such as our tax dollars going to farm subsidies that in turn increase the ammount of money that consumers spend on food. There's many more ways to protect your markets other than tarrifs.

    One of these days I would love to see the candidates actually discussing the issues in depth instead of just the sound bytes and blanket statements like "Free trade helps us" or "free trade hurts us."

    July 1, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Obama now supports NAFTA after beating up Hillary about it during the primaries. So how is this different?

    July 1, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. ALECO1 -----NOKOMIS,FL


    July 1, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. John in Ohio

    Keep this in mind:

    Slightly higher taxes are not guaranteed to occur if Obama gets elected. And higher taxes are preferable, in my opinion, are far preferable to not having a job at all because your job got outsourced to a worker on the other side of the world getting paid a tenth what you would make.

    So, possibly higher taxes in income brackets above yours, or no job for you? Which would you pick?

    Obama 08.

    July 1, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Southern view

    Free trade has to be two ways. Right now, it's one way. We outsource manufacturing to cheap labor countries and we import the stuff back to sell to our foolish consumers. If they were really buying our stuff, then it would be free trade. Do we make any stuff anymore?

    July 1, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. Shannon

    McCain should realize by now that Americans need jobs too, and our economy is hurting. Oh, wait I forgot McCain said, "I am not an expert on the economy" McCain knows war, and traveling to foreign countries. As a presidential hopeful he should probably spend his time trying to figure out what is best for this country, America, and how to put us back to work.

    July 1, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. Robert

    Being against free trade shows how ignorant the majority of Americans are these days. Then again with Democrats constantly making business the enemy maybe it isn't completely their fault.

    July 1, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. larryh WI

    What this election will boil down to is who is liked the most. neither can or will be able to do all they say they will. Lets face it, it's all just talk, aimed at the ignorant who don't know any better, which makes up the majority of the voting public. If you really want a good example of what happens to someone like obama when they get in office simply refer to Africa, the Africans wanted the blacks to rule, now look at the state of affairs.

    July 1, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. Phil Newton Oregon

    This is one issue he won't flip-flop on - because his corporate handlers and lobbyist advisors won't let him.

    So long, Maverick...my friend.

    July 1, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. Raghu

    Another thing CLinton and Obama have in similar and not with McCain. McHillary stop slapping your candidate in the face and shield yourslef form NEOCONS –

    Neoconservatism – the practice of acting like a democrat and spewing hate so other bitter dems will turn into neocons and so hardcore dems will lose hope.

    July 1, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  23. Jim Hall

    McCain is an idiot a clone of Bush and just a plain old man. No more old people in the white house. There should be a federal law that nobody can run this country being over a certain age regardless of position or political party. I am 60 and could not do it effectively although I think I could do a better job than some of those people that are in there now or have been in there. At least I have a memory and practice common sense. AT LEAST I PRACTICE AMERICANS FIRST TO HOOT WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD. We need young minds and I am a republican but consider myself a democrat as the last republican that I voted for was Nixon and that was disasterious. When Regan was in the white house he was half dead and he wasn't even 72 now the republicans have McCain a person who cannot use a computer, cannot talk without a script in front of him, cannot talk on a podium in front of him. Half the time when he talk he looks dumb founded (probably is). All he can talk about is some darn war in Vietnam which is 33 years ago. COME ON GET A LIFE. He has a wife that does not like living in Washington and unfortunately had a stroke so does not talk much (hardly ever). But I guess if you have a 6 million dollar a year income that she has why would she care? She dresses like a _______ "(i cannot write that but you can fill in the blank) I guess if McCain gets the election he will live in the White House and she will live in Arizona. TALK ABOUT BEING DISFUNCTIONAL THROUGH A WALKER, A WHEEL CHAIR, A PORT-A-POTTY, AND SOME CRUTCHES AND WE WILL HAVE IT MADE. Jim Kansas City Missouri Obama 2008

    July 1, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  24. Venus

    Ask the thousands of workers who have lost their jobs about free trade! Instead of traveling to countries about free trade he should be telling workers about how he plans to create new jobs!

    July 1, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. It takes sound judgement, not experience

    McCain, by his own words admits he knows very little about the economy. It is not his strong point. Do we really want him as our president, because folks war isn't everything.

    July 1, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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