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Do Electoral Campaigns Influence Public Support for Trade? Evidence from the 2016 US Presidential Election

Plouffe, M; Kuo, J; (2018) Do Electoral Campaigns Influence Public Support for Trade? Evidence from the 2016 US Presidential Election. Elsevier Green open access

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Abstract

The open-economy politics of trade presumes that elections, as a political institution, aggregate preferences of individual voters to resolve a salient trade cleavage in a democratic society. This presumption, despite being widely applied to analytical narratives of trade politics in the existing literature, has not been empirically tested. The 2016 US presidential election is unique in this regard; trade policy became a politically salient issue, and was treated as such during the electoral campaign. We exploit two waves of a nationally-representative panel survey conducted before and after the 2016 US presidential election to identify the effect of electoral campaigns on the change in public support for trade in general and trade agreements in particular. In contrast with the conventional wisdom, we find that the election and presidential campaigns not only aggregate preexisting individual preferences for trade, but also affect public support for trade. Our main result helps explain why political candidates continue to include trade as an electoral plank when campaigning. It also suggests that trade preferences of individual voters are more endogenous to domestic political institutions and contemporary political dynamics -- in this case, the presidential election and campaigns -- than previously assumed in the literature.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Do Electoral Campaigns Influence Public Support for Trade? Evidence from the 2016 US Presidential Election
Event: Rethinking Free Trade: Liberal International Economic Order in the Wake of Brexit and Trump
Location: Academia Sinica, Taipei
Dates: 15 November 2017 - 16 November 2017
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.3278778
Publisher version: https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3278778
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: trade preferences, presidential campaigns, presidential election, ipe
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10107444
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