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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Poll Busts Free Trader Stereotype of GOP Voters

John Harwood has a Wall St. Journal post reporting on a new WSJ-NBC News Poll that many Dems may find surprising:

By a nearly two-to-one margin, Republican voters believe free trade is bad for the U.S. economy, a shift in opinion that mirrors Democratic views and suggests trade deals could face high hurdles under a new president….That represents a challenge for Republican candidates who generally echo Mr. Bush’s calls for continued trade expansion, and reflects a substantial shift in sentiment from eight years ago….In a December 1999 Wall Street Journal-NBC poll, 37% of Republicans said trade deals had helped the U.S. and 31% said they had hurt, while 26% said they made no difference.

Why the change? Harwood has an interesting clue:

In a March 2007 WSJ/NBC poll, before recent scandals involving tainted imports, 54% of Democratic voters said free-trade agreements have hurt the U.S., compared with 21% who said they have helped. While rank-and-file Democrats have long blasted the impact of trade on American jobs, slipping support among Republicans represents a fresh warning sign for free-market conservatives and American companies such as manufacturers and financial firms that benefit from markets opening abroad.

Harwood has more to say about the interesting trends suggested by the new poll. Meanwhile, Dems can be encouraged by yet another indication that they are in solid position to win the support of a healthy chunk of moderate Republicans in November, ’08.

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