The Takeaway: Trade, Millennials and #OscarsSoIrrelevant

The Takeaway: Trade, Millennials and #OscarsSoIrrelevant
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Intriguing tidbits from the week in election surveys and public opinion polls.

Trump vs. Trade: On the same day that President Trump announced his decision to slap tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, Gallup released a survey showing the public remains overwhelmingly supportive of foreign trade. Seventy percent of respondents said they believe foreign trade is “an opportunity for growth” for America via exports, versus just 25 percent who saw foreign imports as a “threat” to the U.S. economy.

Views on foreign trade have been generally positive for the last few years as the U.S. economy recovered from the Great Recession of 2008, but received a dramatic boost upon the election of Donald Trump. In 2016, 58 percent of Americans were positive toward foreign trade. The following year that number had jumped to 72 percent.  

The Pew Research Center has a related data point on trade that is worth noting: Millennial voters (the cohort defined here as those between 22 and 37 years of age in 2018) have much more positive views of the North American Free Trade Agreement than older generations. Sixty-four percent of millennials say NAFTA is good for the United States, compared to just 50 percent of baby boomers and 43 percent of those who are 73+ years of age.

The Kids Are Alright? The aforementioned Pew Research Survey compared a number of other issues across generations and found, perhaps not surprisingly, that the millennial generation is the most diverse and consistently most liberal cohort in American history. According to Pew’s data, the trend toward more liberal views has been happening across all generations in recent years, but it is most pronounced among millennials, as you can see here. In 2004, 32 percent of millennials said they held “mostly liberal” views while 9 percent said they held “consistently liberal” views. In 2017, the number of millennials holding “mostly liberal” views was unchanged, but the number holding “consistently liberal” views has nearly tripled to 25 percent – the highest by far of any of the generations measured.

2020 or Bust: President Trump set a record this week by announcing he’s running for re-election in 2020 (and naming his campaign manager, Brad Parscale) a full 979 days before the vote will be taken.  A Rasmussen survey released Thursday showed that, if the election were held today, 73 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of Independents and 15 percent of Democrats would vote to re-elect Trump. Meanwhile, 81 percent of Democrats and 20 percent of Republicans would support the as-yet-unknown Democratic standard-bearer. 

Buried in a poll from The Economist/YouGov this week is a simple question -- which is now moot: Do you want Donald Trump to run for re-election in 2020? Fifty-four percent said no while just 30 percent said yes. Fifteen percent didn’t have an opinion.

In another question, the most-used word to describe Trump was “arrogant” (62 percent) followed by “hypocritical” (42 percent). And while those words are unquestionably negative, the next three most-used words to describe the commander-in-chief are most certainly not: “bold” (42 percent), “patriotic” (32 percent) and “strong” (32 percent).  The perpetual campaign rolls on.

Odds & Ends: Don’t look now, but Marco Rubio has a lower approval rating than Donald Trump in Florida, according to Quinnipiac University. A new Associated Press/NORC poll focused on race shows the deep disapproval African-Americans feel toward the president, including eight of 10 who say he’s a “racist.” A USA Today/Suffolk University poll shows that 49 percent of the public views the media unfavorably, but when asked which sources they trust the most, Fox News topped the list (21 percent), followed by PBS/NPR (16.5 percent) and CNN (13.5 percent).  

Oscar Time! Most people are aware the Academy Awards are this Sunday, March 4, though it seems not many people care, according to the Economist/YouGov survey. Just 5 percent say they’re following the Oscars “very closely” with another 13 percent saying they’re following it “fairly closely.” The vast majority, 83 percent, are not following too closely or at all.

Some more bad news for Hollywood: 49 percent say they “almost never” or “never” see a movie in a movie theater, and 52 percent say they prefer watching movies at home versus just 12 percent who prefer going to the theater.

On the cultural front, a new Morning Consult poll tries to put a number on how liberal the public thinks Hollywood is versus the rest of the country. Spoiler alert: It’s a sizeable amount.

Lastly, according to the Economist/YouGov poll, most Americans have seen just one of the nine films nominated for Best Picture. I fall into that category myself, although the one that I did see, “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri,” was easily the best movie I saw all year. So I guess I’ll be rooting for “Three Billboards,” even though, like most Americans, I probably won’t be tuning in Sunday night.

Tom Bevan is the co-founder and publisher of RealClearPolitics and the co-author of "Election 2012: A Time for Choosing." Email:, Twitter: @TomBevanRCP

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