Trade and the 2008 Election

Trade and Elections

At least eighty-eight new fair trade challenger candidates were elected during the past two election cycles. In sixty-nine of those races, incumbents supporting past unfair “free trade” agreements either retired or were replaced by candidates running on a platform of fair trade reform.

Seventy-five of eighty candidates endorsed by CTC PAC won their races in 2008, including sixty-five incumbents from both political parties who opposed the Peru Free Trade Agreement and cosponsored the TRADE Act. In addition, ten challengers picked up seats formerly held by anti-fair trade incumbents from New York to Oregon, and from North Carolina to New Mexico. In 2006, thirty-seven fair traders beat anti-fair trade incumbents, or took their open seats, in House and Senate races.

For analysis on trade in this election, and to see the ads discussed below you can check out the GTW database of 137 paid trade television ads run by candidates for office in the 2008 election cycle or see their report, Fair Trade Gets an Upgrade (PDF).

“It’s hard to find an issue where the votes have shifted so much, so fast, as on the trade issue” said Yvette Pena Lopes, trade expert with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “Voters spoke loud and clear at the ballot box, on two consecutive elections, and they want trade reform.”

For years, polling data has shown that NAFTA-style trade policies are opposed by a majority of voters across all demographics. This was especially true in battleground states, and among the swing voters that will determine the election outcomes.

These powerful polling results translated into a deluge of television ads on trade in 2008. In these paid spots, candidates promised to “oppose job killing trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA, which cost our state jobs.” Challengers also reminded voters when their opponent “sided with George Bush on trade policies to move our jobs overseas” and if he “cast the deciding vote on CAFTA”.

In July of 2005, two hundred and fifteen congressional members voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which passed by only two votes. If any one supporter of CAFTA would have switched a vote, the result would have resulted in a tie, and the agreement would not have passed.

“Winning candidates nationwide tapped into the widespread popular discontent voters have with past failed trade policies,” said Eric Dirnbach, trade policy specialist with UNITE HERE. “Members who voted for job killing trade deals found out their jobs were in jeopardy as well.”

Questions for 2008 Congressional Candidates The Trade Issue in the 2008 Elections | Tracking Campaign Ads

Mood Shift Against Free Trade Puts Republicans on Defensive Wall Street Journal
Dems’ Ads In Tight Races Tap Into Anti-Trade Sentiment National Journal Congress Daily
Democrats campaign to keep jobs at home Reuters
Trade Reform Message Dominates Campaign Ads … Common Dreams
Trade Takes Center Stage in Campaign Ads Global Trade Watch — Eyes on Trade
Free Trade Agreements Could Ship Wisconsin Jobs Overseas WKBT, WI – November 3, 2008
FREE TRADE IS A TOUGH SELL Shipping Digest, New Jersey – Nov 2, 2008
Analysis: Free trade in trouble The Journal of Commerce Online, NJ – Oct 29, 2008


Why Obama shouldn’t cave on trade
Worker’s Reject McCain Overture Financial Times, June 29, 2008
Michaud hits McCain on free trade stance Bangor Daily News, June 21, 2008
McCain stumps strategists by playing up his unpopular stance on free trade Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2008
More Stupidity on Trade Jonathan Tasini, Working Life, June 16, 2008
Hard bargains: Bilateral trade pacts draw domestic objections Financial Times, June 16, 2008
Obama to focus on bolstering Michigan’s future Detroit News, June 15, 2008
Korea Experts Join Obama, McCain Camps Chosun Ilbo, June 13, 2008
Democrats to Focus on Trade to Win Working Class Reuters, June 12, 2008

FACTBOX: McCain, Obama plans on U.S. trade policy Reuters, June 4, 2008
Obama, McCain Differ on Korea Policy Korea Times, June 4, 2008
Obama and McCain offer voters a choice on trade Reuters, June 2, 2008
Free trade issue dropped as race finishes in Montana Associated Press, June 1, 2008
Obama’s Korea Trade Deal Objection Is Political, Minister Says Bloomberg, May 26, 2008
No evidence against PM’s aide in NAFTA leak: inquiry Canwest News Service, May 23, 2008
FACTBOX-McCain and Obama plans on U.S. trade policy Reuters, May 21, 2008
Obama May Find It Hard To Govern as Free Trader Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2008
We need a new consensus on trade David Sirota, Creators Syndicate, May 16, 2008

Obama, Clinton back Senate trade bill on China currency Reuters, May 1, 2008
Super Delegates Might Tip Over Trade Huffington Post, May 1, 2008
Pushing the Dems on Trade The Progressive, May 2008
U.S. “time out” from trade may have begun Reuters, April 29, 2008
Candidates Court Trade Skeptics Washington Post, April 29, 2008
McCain to hit hard on free trade in hard-hit town USA Today, April 22, 2008
Superdelegates Leverage Uncommitted Status for All Its Worth CQ, April 21, 2008
Obama Questions Clinton on Free Trade Associated Press, April 14, 2008
Penn Out As Clinton Senior Strategist Associated Press, April 7, 2008
Obama, Clinton Promises May Undo Bill Clinton’s Trade Legacy Bloomberg, April 2, 2008

Clinton ready to walk away from NAFTA, adviser warns Globe and Mail, March 28, 2008
NAFTA-gate probe to be made public Globe and Mail, March 27, 2008
Loose talk part of federal NAFTA leak probe Toronto Star, March 27, 2008
NAFTA foes hope Dems’ words turn into action Chicago Tribune, March 25, 2008
Presidential Candidates on Trade Center for International Policy (CIP), March 13, 2008
The McCain Way: Forget Everything You Know ManufactureThis.Org, March 12, 2008
McCain, Clinton and Obama on Trade: Digging Deeper Eyes on Trade, March 11, 2008
McCain Scolds Obama, Clinton Over NAFTA Associated Press, March 11, 2008
PM’s top aide set off storm with Obama NAFTA leak Globe and Mail, March 5, 2008
Clinton Pounces on Memo To Attack Obama on Nafta Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2008

Harper meddling in U.S. primaries, Democrats say Globe and Mail, March 3, 2008
Clinton Criticizes Obama Over Canadian-Nafta Memo Bloomberg, March 3, 2008
NAFTA has had its trade-offs for the U.S. LA Times, March 3, 2008
Obama’s stance on NAFTA is disingenuous, Clinton indicates LA Times, March 3, 2008
Obama, Clinton Promises May Undo Bill Clinton’s Trade Legacy Bloomberg, April 2, 2008
McCain blasts Obama’s and Clinton’s attacks on NAFTA LA Times, February 29, 2008
Banging Obama For Making Sense on Trade The Nation, February 29, 2008
Rocky Shoes sweatshop abuses shed light on failed trade model amid primary contest Sweatfree Communities, Ohio Conference on Fair Trade, UNITE-HERE, February 28, 2008
In Ohio primary, campaign hinges on NAFTA Christian Science Monitor, February 28, 2008
Clinton and Obama threat to end NAFTA alarms business Reuters, February 27, 2008

NAFTA’s triumph may be Clinton’s downfall Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), February 27, 2008
Questions the Democratic Presidential Candidates Need to Answer on Trade & Globalization Lori Wallach, Huffington Post, February 27, 2008
Presidential candidates focus on Ohio’s economic woes, trade Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 26, 2008
Democrats Spar Over NAFTA In Ohio Associated Press, February 26, 2008
Fact Check: Clinton, Obama and NAFTA Associated Press, February 26, 2008
Clinton and Obama’s NAFTA showdown, February 25, 2008
Obama targets NAFTA but says supports free trade Reuters, February 25, 2008
Obama, Clinton Wrangle Over Trade Before Ohio Contest Bloomberg, February 23, 2008
Clinton Slams Obama Tactics New York Times, February 23, 2008
Obama, Clinton promises on NAFTA hard to fulfill Reuters, February 22, 2008

Clinton Works to Hold Ohio Lead as Obama Attacks on Trade, Jobs Bloomberg, February 22, 2008
A Trade Transformation Creators Syndicate, February 22, 2008
Canada dismisses US campaign talk of NAFTA change Reuters, February 22, 2008
Decoding Candidates on Trade Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2008
The Texas Ohio NAFTA two-step, February 20, 2008
Barack Obama: I will repair our relationship with Mexico Dallas Morning News, February 20, 2008
Wisconsin Put Trade on the Agenda The Nation, February 19, 2008
Primary makes Clinton, Obama talk trade Capital Times, February 19, 2008
Press Release: Failed Trade Agenda Cooling on Chilly Primary Election Day Wisconsin Fair Trade Coalition, February 19, 2008
Americans turning tepid on trade Washington Post, February 17, 2008

Obama criticizes Clinton on NAFTA United Press International, February 17, 2008
Obama Talks Tough(er) on Trade to Win Wisconsin The Nation, February 13, 2008

Impact of Trade Issue on the Election