Political News

It's tough to know how Americans feel about Trump's tariffs

Posted June 15, 2018 10:33 a.m. EDT

— Americans aren't really sure what to make of President Trump's tariffs.

On Friday, he announced the US will impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion of Chinese exports, with warnings of more to come.

According to a poll released by Quinnipiac University in June, a majority (52%) of registered voters support a generic question on raising tariffs on products imported from China, with a third in opposition and 12% who aren't sure.

Independents were more in favor of generic tariffs than they have been of Trump's other actions, with 55% of the group in support. This number has also increased from Quinnipiac's April poll, with an 8-point gain.

That seems to suggest general support.

The new tariffs that Trump announced Friday are meant to penalize China for stealing American technology and trade secrets. The tariff is targeted towards the Chinese aerospace, robotics, manufacturing and auto industries.

No polling has been done on these recent tariffs, as they were announced this morning. But, the public feels very differently when discussing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, especially those that will increase costs for them. All polls done since March on these types of tariffs suggests opposition by more than 50% of the public.

When asked in an April Quinnipiac poll if respondents would support or oppose "raising tariffs on products imported from China, if it causes China to raise tariffs on American products," 51% said they would oppose the tariffs and 40% said they would support them. There is a partisan divide in the results with two-thirds of Republicans supporting Trump's action.

In a March poll, CBS asked respondents whether a trade war with China sparked by tariffs on steel and aluminum would help, hurt or have no effect on the US in the long run. More than half of people, perhaps unsurprisingly since "trade war" is not a nice sounding phrase, said it would hurt the US. Only 22% said the US would be better in the long run and only 20% said it would make no difference. Republicans were more likely (46%) to say a trade war would make the US "better."

The President's rating on trade is not great, about the same as his approval ratings overall. Quinnipiac's June poll asked if the public approved or disapproved of the way Donald Trump was handling trade and 40% said they approve while 51% said they disapprove.