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CBS News poll on trade and tariffs: Americans want China to change policies; they're wary of short-term tariff impact

Trade war felt from Beijing to U.S.
Impact of the trade war felt from Beijing to California 03:29

In views on trade and tariffs with China, most Americans applaud the goals but express some wariness about the tactics — at least in the short term.

More than six in ten Americans (62%) favor trying to get China to change its trade policies toward the U.S. This view includes large majorities of Republicans (84%) and independents (67%) and a substantial number of Democrats (46%) too.


Asked to gauge the impact of new tariffs imposed by the U.S. and China, specifically, more Americans foresee short-term pain for the U.S. economy than see short-term upside.


Over the long term, Americans are split on whether they think new tariffs will ultimately lead to better trade deals between the U.S. and China.


Most Americans are unwilling to pay while being patient. Two-thirds of Americans say they'd be unwilling to pay more for goods impacted by any tariffs while the U.S. tries to renegotiate trade deals. Those earning less money are the least willing to see costs go up. Along partisan lines, six in ten Republicans are willing to pay more, which sets them apart from most Democrats and independents, most of whom are not willing.

Most Americans do believe free trade has generally been good for the U.S. This includes a large majority of Democrats, a slim majority of Republicans, and most independents.

Views on President Trump's handling of the trade issue with China are divided and, as with most evaluations of the President, starkly partisan: 86 percent of Republicans approve of his handling, 83 percent of Democrats disapprove, and independents are split.

There is majority support — especially from Republicans, but also from most Democrats — for the U.S. government giving money to people in the farming and agriculture industries who might be hurt by new tariffs. Subsidizing manufacturing workers finds more mixed support, and most Americans oppose giving to those in the technology sector.


The CBS News survey is conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,5110 U.S. residents interviewed online between May 14-16, 2019. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote and registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov's opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. residents. The margin of error is 2.7%.

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