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. Tim

    As bad as we feel about the Democratic party, we have to admit that the Republicans have been a complete failure. This presidency has been the worse in American history. No one is foolish enough to vote for a Republican who embraces the biggest failure/lie of his predecessor. No way will I take any chance of sneaking this looser into office to insure our continued slide to third world status.

    July 1, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  2. Michele Hussein, Oregon

    Of great sadness to me is the fact that my own cousin is building a factory in China.......

    We need to offer more incentives for businesses to remain here and we need to do it soon. Yes, we are a global society, but if our businesses are built on the backs of cheap foreign labor that does not hold to the environmental, health, worker standards mandated by our own country, no U.S. business should be allowed to profit from this.

    We need better accountability and I, for one, do not trust John McCain to enact the standards required not to abuse indigenous peoples, ensure safe products for our citizens and keep jobs here in America whenever possible.

    July 1, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. Dood

    My last job got sent to Mexico. It was a tough break. I got another job.

    I'm voting for McCain because I don't want to live in France.

    July 1, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. SJM

    Has Obama made up his mind yet whether he is for or against NAFTA? I'm not sure myself, because I remember him debating Hillary and saying something to the effect that "I have not been ambivalent regarding NAFTA". Then last week or so he "took a step back" from his position, I love twisting the English language, Obama seems to do it so well.

    July 1, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  5. demwit

    "Revamping" Free Trade?

    You mean like..., UnFree Trade? And we'll be on the winning side of that one....rigggght!?

    July 1, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. DJ, LA, CA

    I'd rather pay an extra $10 week or whatever the cost is for groceries and consumer goods to KEEP JOBS in the USA, rather than so called "free trade".

    Corporations and the lobbies only care about profit margins and care less about American workers. Plus many of these U.S. corporations exploit slave-like or child labor which otherwise would be illegal in the U.S.

    July 1, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. Outsourced

    Free Trade is nothing more than an excuse for corporations to outsource American jobs. Ross Perot was right on the mark when he spoke of that "giant sucking sound" you will hear when all of the American jobs are "off-shored" to places like India (IT jobs) and Mexico (manufacturing jobs). I'm so tired of hearing the endless corporate CEO rhetoric about how the Global Economy is SO good for us!

    July 1, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  8. Sue/PA

    here comes a "flip-flop" because it didnt poll well.

    McCain: Free Trade Guru

    Money for the Rich...none for the poor

    July 1, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. Willy

    Obama is a puppet for the comminist left.

    July 1, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  10. Jon

    I'm sure most polled don't know jack about trade in the first place. Do your own poll and ask some people on the street......you will find a lot of clueless idiots that you can thank the union controlled Democrat education system for.

    July 1, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Yeah and many working Americans also have issues with McSame's stance on immigration, so rots of ruck to all you dead PUMAs out there...

    July 1, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. NObama

    Wow. You could change that title of this article to:

    "In challenge to McCain: Most Americans Are Ignorant".

    July 1, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. NELSON Colorado Springs, Co

    When will the president,congress and the senate get it right ,it not FREE TRADE when you can only send 10% or less of what you make or product to other country like China,Colombia,Japan. Mexico and Korea. Where is the FREE TRADE? Sen Obama and Sen McCain need to CHANGE this alone with congress and senate help

    July 1, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. Larry~

    OH, OH, Mcsame...better get ready to flip flop again....like the tax breaks, oil drilling and so many other issues!

    Bush is hung around your neck and no matter what you same he will remain there.

    Wondering how you paid for your plane and how the $20,000 it costs every time you fuel up is being paid for...ask Cindy for more money!!!!

    July 1, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Susan, PA

    would $20-30 savings in gas in the summer better than a real solution to curb the gas dependency and hence stop the spiralling hike ?
    This is a typical politics where politicians have swindled the country by populist schemes rather than the pragmatic ones .

    July 1, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. RC

    the dollar will continue to sink. Then, in comes the Amero. May not be a bad deal . And it may be a horrific deal.

    July 1, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |

    the "SHAME ON YOU" is getting really old. what are these people, like 5 years old?

    July 1, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. Sue

    In the "Rust Belt" states, first take a look at your state's taxing levels for industry. Are you sure that's not the reason your former industry has left/is leaving your area? Or maybe the unions in your area are so anti-management that there is no reasonable way for industry to work in your area?

    July 1, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. NObama

    To Karen in Phoenix:

    I suggest that one really considers Obama's "proposals" before one suggests that they are good for the country. I would ask that one considers the practical aspects of implementation, costs of implemention, trade-offs necessary and do a simple cost/benefit analysis before making such a broad statement as you did.

    If you consider the costs of what Obama wants, "if only half of what he proposes gets done" then the US will not be in financial difficulty as we are today. We will simply be bankrupt.

    July 1, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. Earl

    Another nail in McWar's coffin

    July 1, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. David Illinois

    Don't worry. Whatever Obama says today will be changed in a week or so, depending on what the polls say. He will be telling us how great Bush was in about a month. Say anything. Do anything. Just to get elected. Watch out Oprah. There is room under the bus for you too. Just a matter of time. The man is a liar.

    July 1, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. Tjaye in LA

    Is there anything he is for that the majority of America is not against?

    He is the proverbial out of touch old man who just can't grasp that people today want something different than they did in HIS day.

    July 1, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. Nick

    The arguement over free trade is skirting the issue. There is no agreement that is going to bring manufactoring jobs back to the U.S. unless BOTH corporate bottom line and workers salaries and benefits take a huge hit. There is no way we can compete with manufactorering plants in Asia and central America where cost of living is low and corporate taxes are low. The answer is developing new industry in this country that cannot be outsourced, i.e. alternative energy, stem cell technology, etc. The technology for these is here, the next step is corporate investment so that this technology can be manufactored and an industry can be created. We need a 21st century industrial revolution.

    July 1, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. Peter E

    Ah, the hypocrisy of American trade... when it comes to Europe we continue to accuse them of violating free trade. But we wouldn't ever open our markets to their companies. When it comes to China we do have free trade. Hence the record trade deficits because they make everything cheaper and henece the American consumer gobbles up their products. But we still complain.
    I guess the only thing consistent is American self-interest: we want other countries to open up their markets to our companies in an unrestricted way, but in turn we don't want to open up our market to their companies without protectionist restrictions. And we also discriminate against some countries while let others walk all over us.
    We really need to start being more consistent...

    July 1, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. Ian-Paul Guzman-Escobar

    When Bill Clinton proposed taxes on the top economic tier of our population, Republicans claimed it would ruin our economy!
    Guess what... they were WRONG!
    Our economy grew like never before... growth that helped all economic tiers of our population.
    Stock market grew from about 3,500 to what is about now... growth for the our top economic tier grew more than ever before (Rich Republicans benefited more with Clinton than with any other president... so did the other tiers).

    It amazes me how some still listen to Republican's FEAR tactics... when they have screwed almost everything they have touched (economy, education, energy, global warming, the environment, crime, and yes... even on the REAL war on terrorism... that war in the far place we call Afghanistan!).

    Now as for John McCain... here is a guy that won support for being a Maverick. Now, like off shore oil drilling... he has changed his position only to appease his right-winged consituants... what a sell out. And yes... John is WRONG on his economic policies... he has turned himself into another BUSH!

    July 1, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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