Document Type


Date of Original Version



Political Science


Why has the relationship between partisan identification and Americans’ trade attitudes shifted in recent years? We suggest that recent shifts in trade attitudes among partisans are driven by Donald Trump, who staked out a position on trade that is at odds with the position on trade traditionally held by Republicans. Using panel data from the Voter Study Group (VSG) surveys from 2011, 2016, and 2017, we conduct cross-sectional analyses showing that the relationship between partisanship and trade attitudes has shifted dramatically from 2011 to 2016/2017; in 2011, Republicans were significantly more supportive of expanded trade, but by 2016/2017 the relationship had reversed, with Democrats significantly more supportive of trade. We link changes over time in trade attitudes with how Americans evaluate Trump: individuals with favorable attitudes toward Donald Trump are significantly more likely to shift their attitudes in an anti-trade direction from 2011-2016. Because so many more Republicans have favorable attitudes toward Trump, the aggregate effect of Trump favorability is to shift Republicans as a group to be less favorable toward trade than Democrats. We suggest that Donald Trump has had a transformative effect on Americans’ trade attitudes, with previous supporters (opponents) of expanded trade now expressing opposing (supporting) attitudes.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Presidential Studies Quarterly