WASHINGTON ― One of president-elect Donald Trump’s clearest messages during his campaign for the presidency was that international trade deals hurt American workers, and that message seemed to resonate with people who voted for him on Election Day.
Trump won 65 percent of voters who said international trade costs jobs, according to exit polls conducted as people cast their ballots Tuesday. Overall, 42 percent of voters told exit pollsters they agreed with the sentiment, while 38 percent said trade creates jobs and 11 percent had no opinion. In Rust Belt states like Ohio and Wisconsin, an even higher proportion of voters said trade costs jobs.
Exit polls aren’t perfect, and it’s possible some Trump voters were more likely to agree that trade costs jobs just because that’s something Trump has said so many times. But Trump did better among workers who said trade hurts workers than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton did among workers who said trade creates jobs.
Trump has said he would walk away from trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he blames for allowing U.S. companies to lay off workers in favor of lower-paid Mexican ones.
Several times this year different U.S. firms announced they would be outsourcing high-paying manufacturing positions to Mexico, where pay is lower, and Trump pounced. He specifically bashed the Ford Motor Company and an air-conditioner manufacturing firm called Carrier for announcing new jobs in Mexico.
“We’re going to tell them, if you want to sell your air conditioners [back in the U.S.], you’re going to pay a 35 percent tax,” Trump said in July in response to the Carrier announcement. “And you know what’s going to happen? They’re not going to move.”
Trump didn’t specifically denounce the Rexnord Corporation when it announced new production in Mexico this fall, but at least one Rexnord worker whose job may be affected told HuffPost last month that he favored Trump for his position on trade.
“I definitely probably steer to the guy that’s trying to save my job,” the worker said.