Bucknell Poll Finds Americans Optimistic About U.S.-China Trade War Outcome

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Results Indicate the Public Skeptical About a Quick Resolution

LEWISBURG, Pa. — A new nationally representative survey from the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy (BIPP) shows that Americans are generally optimistic that the current United States-China trade war will lead to positive outcomes for the U.S. economy, though they remain skeptical that this dispute will be resolved quickly and they fear it adds uncertainty to the U.S. economy.

By and large, Americans do not feel that the trade dispute has hurt them personally, though there is a greater sense of economic pain in the states that Donald Trump flipped from Barack Obama to win the 2016 election.

“Though there are predictable political divides, most Americans think that this trade war will have a happy ending, and that it is not materially affecting their own lives,” said Chris Ellis, political science professor and director of Bucknell’s Survey Research Laboratory. “There are some red flags for Trump, though, in the states that are critical to him in his quest for re-election.”

Interviews for this survey, administered by YouGov for BIPP, were conducted from April 24 through 28.

Americans see uncertainty, reason for optimism in the current Trade War

More than half (55%) of Americans say that the current U.S-China trade disputes will be resolved in a way that benefits the United States economy. Republicans (76%) and those who reported voting for Donald Trump were significantly more likely than other Americans (82%) to say that the trade war will be resolved to the benefit of the U.S., but a majority (55%) of self-identified political independents also expressed optimism that the trade war will end in a way that benefits the U.S. economy.

Despite that, Americans generally express some worry about the future of the trade dispute, with majorities saying that the trade dispute is adding uncertainty to the United States economy (66% said that this was true) and that the trade dispute will not be resolved any time soon (63%). Again, Republicans and Trump voters were the least likely to see negative effects of the trade dispute, but even majorities of Republicans (57%) and Trump supporters (55%) felt that the trade disputes were adding uncertainty to the economy.

Most don’t think the trade dispute has hurt them; concern higher in battleground states

Despite some concern about the overall economic uncertainty caused by the trade dispute, about two-thirds (65%) of Americans say that it has negatively affected their own economic well-being; while 32% say that it has affected them negatively.

Some of the expression of personal economic pain can be attributed to politics. Forty-five percent of Clinton voters say that the trade dispute has hurt them economically, while 20% of Trump voters say the same. There are important differences across socioeconomic lines, however 39% of Americans in households that earn less than $40,000 per year say that the trade dispute has hurt them economically, compared to 29% of those who earn over this amount.

Importantly, concern over personal economic fallout is higher than the national average in the five states (Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Iowa) that Donald Trump flipped from Barack Obama in 2016, and that are crucial to his re-election prospects in 2020. Forty percent of respondents from these states say that they are personally negatively affected by the trade dispute, compared to 26% in states that both Trump and Mitt Romney carried twice, and 33% in states that Barack Obama carried twice.

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CONTACTS: Chris Ellis, 570-577-1960, chris.ellis@bucknell.edu; Mike Ferlazzo, 570-577-3212, 570-238-6266 (c), mike.ferlazzo@bucknell.edu

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