By more than two to one (43% to 20%), Americans see the Trump tariffs on Chinese goods as hurting, not helping, the economy
Americans tend to agree with President Donald Trump’s characterization of China’s trade policy as “unfair” to the United States. But that doesn’t mean respondents in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll approve of the 25% tariffs his Administration has imposed.
By more than three to one, the public knows that American companies and individuals will pay the import tax on various goods – and not Chinese.
Majorities of Democrats, independents and Republicans all agree that Americans will pay those tariffs, though by different margins. But nearly a third of Republicans believe, as the President himself has tweeted, that China will pay.
Believing that there will be no cost to the American consumer makes a difference in how you evaluate the tariffs in general and their impact on the American economy. But so does partisanship. This Administration and its actions, like several Administrations before, is viewed in a hyper-partisan light. By more than two to one (43% to 20%), Americans see the Trump tariffs on Chinese goods as hurting, not helping, the economy (though Republicans believe the opposite, also by more than two to one). Consequently, while the public opposes the tariffs, Republicans approve of them, even Republicans who expect that American companies and individuals will pay the price.
The poll was conducted mostly before Monday and Tuesday’s sizable drops in the stock market, but it underscores worries about Chinese economic power.
Americans of both parties are more likely to say trade with China is an opportunity rather than a threat. But they also say the Asian country, which is considered the world’s second largest economy, is an economic threat to the United States, which is still considered the world’s biggest economy, according to the World Bank. 52% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans say China is at least a somewhat serious economic threat. One in three thinks the tariffs will hurt them personally, though most don’t expect to be either helped or hurt. When it comes to China being a fair trading partner, by 47% to 15%, Americans say it is not.
But the President doesn’t score highly with the public when it comes to his handling of China – or his handling of foreign trade overall. Americans disapprove of him in both areas.