Majority Also Opposed in Very Red Districts
WASHINGTON: A new PPC survey finds that nearly six in ten voters oppose the new tariffs on solar panels imposed by the Trump administration, including a majority in very red districts. However, nearly six in ten Republicans favor the tariffs.
On January 22, the Trump administration imposed a tariff on solar panels in response to requests from two solar panel producers with operations in the United States that said that solar panels were being imported from other countries, especially from Asia, in such high volumes that these companies could not compete. The tariffs are 30% in year one, declining to 25% in year two, 20% in year three and 15% in year four. A new bill in Congress, with bipartisan sponsorship, has just been dropped to reverse these new tariffs.
The survey of 1,999 registered voters was conducted by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) at the University of Maryland, and released today by the nonpartisan organization, Voice of the People (VOP). Neither VOP nor PPC take a position on the issue, but seek to the give the public a greater voice.
Respondents were given a short briefing explaining the reasons the tariffs were imposed and the opposition from solar installers and environmental groups. They were then asked to evaluate arguments for and against the proposal before making their final recommendation. The survey content was reviewed by experts in favor and against the solar tariffs, to ensure that the briefing was accurate and balanced, and that the strongest arguments were presented.
PPC director Steven Kull commented, “While Americans do respond to the arguments that American jobs are being lost to low price imports and that the US should push for better trade deals, the counter arguments—that tariffs could hurt the solar industry overall, and that there is a risk of starting a trade war—do better. While protectionist arguments hold some sway, in the end, the majority comes down against the new tariffs.”
When respondents were asked for their final recommendation, 58% said they opposed imposing the tariff on solar energy panels including an overwhelming 76% of Democrats and a slight majority (51%) of independents. However, 58% of Republicans favored the tariff.
The sample was divided six ways according to Cook PVI ratings for the district in which each respondent lived. Among those in very red districts, opposition to the tariffs was lower than for the nation as a whole, but still a majority of 54% were opposed. In very blue districts, 67% were opposed.
Among Republicans, support for the tariffs is highly related to attitudes about Trump. Among Republicans who voted for Trump, 63% favored the tariffs, while among those who did not, only 27% did with 71% opposed.
Kull comments, “Historically, there have been minor differences between Republicans and Democrats on trade issues. It appears that Donald Trump’s challenge to the prevailing trade order is related to growing polarization between Republicans and Democrats in the public. Ironically, this growing polarization is in a direction that is the opposite of the historical polarization between Republicans and Democrats in Congress.”
The survey was conducted online from March 9-23, 2018 with a national probability-based sample of 1,999 registered voters, provided by Nielsen Scarborough from their sample of respondents, who were recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The national sample has a margin of error of +/- 2.2%.