A piece in the New York Times today suggests that rich people are more likely than poor people to support free trade:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal making its way through Congress is the latest step in a decades-long trend toward liberalizing trade — a somewhat mysterious development given that many Americans are skeptical of freer trade.
But Americans with higher incomes are not so skeptical. They — along with businesses and interest groups that tend to be affiliated with them — are much more likely to support trade liberalization. Trade is thus one of the best examples of how public policy in the United States is often much more responsive to the preferences of the wealthy than to those of the general public.
Skepticism toward free trade among lower-income Americans is often substantial. Data from a 2013 CBS/New York Times poll show that 58 percent of Americans making less than $30,000 per year preferred to limit imports to protect United States industries and jobs, while only 36 percent preferred the wider selection and lower prices of imported goods available under free trade. But the balance of opinion reversed for those making over $100,000. Among that higher-income group, 53 percent favored free trade versus 44 percent who wanted to limit imports.
Similarly, a Pew Research Center survey released on Wednesday found that a plurality of Americans making under $30,000 per year say that their family’s finances have been hurt by free trade agreements (44 percent) rather than helped (38 percent). By contrast, those making more than $100,000 per year overwhelmingly believe free trade has been beneficial — 52 percent said trade agreements have helped their family’s finances versus only 29 percent who said they have hurt.
I am sometimes skeptical of polls on these issues, mainly due to badly phrased questions. But regardless, I would be interested to see if the answers were affected by information on who actually pays the most in tariff revenue (as a percentage of their income), which, it turns out, is poor people: