Document Type


Date of Original Version



Political Science


While previous literature has offered two broad categories of explanation for individual trade preferences: economic self-interest and non-economic factors, we contend that during times of intensified elite discourse on trade, individuals may follow elite opinions to form their opinions on trade. Utilizing data from the 2016 American National Election Survey, we examine the effect of Trump’s protectionist views and rhetoric on public trade opinion. We argue that there was a “Trump effect” on trade attitudes among the mass public in 2016 and this effect went beyond the party line, meaning that Trump supporters, regardless of their partisanship, were more likely to be influenced by his protectionist views and to adopt anti-free trade positions. Moreover, we suggest a conditional effect of political knowledge on the “Trump effect” of trade opinion. Our empirical tests offer strong support for both hypotheses, suggesting a significant “Trump effect” on public trade opinion in 2016.