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No Opinion on Free Trade Pact

Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015

Obama rating ticks up slightly


West Long Branch, NJ  – The American public has not been following news about the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement and most are unsure of its potential impact.  Opinion is divided on the idea of free trade deals in general and few can point to any impact – either positive or negative – from the two-decade old NAFTA pact.  The Monmouth University Poll  also found that Pres. Barack Obama’s job approval rating has grown slightly more positive while ratings for Congress continue to wallow in the cellar.

The public is simply not tuned in to the recently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement.  About 6-in-10 have heard about it, but only 12% say they have heard a lot while 47% have heard only a little.  A large majority (60%) of the public is not sure what impact the pact will have on average Americans.  The remainder are divided – 11% say the impact will be good, 19% say it will be bad, and 10% say it will not have much impact.  Among the small group who have heard a lot about the deal, though, nearly half (47%) say the impact will be bad for most Americans and just 23% say it will be good.

Overall, 24% of the public feels that free trade agreements in general are good for the United States and a nearly identical 26% say they are bad.  Another 46% are unsure.  Republicans (33%) are only slightly more likely than independents (26%) or Democrats (24%) to feel that these deals are bad for the country.

As a benchmark, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been in effect for more than 20 years, but few people have an opinion of that historic deal either.  Just 18% of the public feel this pact has been good for most Americans, but only 24% feel it has been bad.  Another 16% say it has had not much impact on the public and a 43% plurality are unsure what the effect has been.

“Free trade agreements like the TPP can provoke a firestorm on Capitol Hill and Wall Street. But the potential impact on Main Street remain difficult for most Americans to picture,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

The poll also looked at Pres. Obama’s overall standing with the public.  His job rating has been see-sawing back and forth over the past few months.  He currently has a positive 47% approve to 45% disapprove rating with the American public.  That’s higher than the ratings he held in September (45% – 49%) and August (45% – 50%), but it is similar to his job rating in July (47% – 46%).  Congress continues to earn a negative 17% approve to 71% disapprove job rating – a number that barely budges from poll to poll.  [Note: the current poll was conducted before Paul Ryan’s election as Speaker of the House.]   Two-thirds (66%) of the public say things in the country have gotten off on the wrong track and just 24% say they are going in the right direction, a finding which is virtually unchanged from prior polls.

The Monmouth University Poll  was conducted by telephone from October 15 to 18, 2015 with 1,012 adults in the United States.   This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.1 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

DATA TABLES

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:                                 

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

  1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president?

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED VOTER

PARTY ID

Yes

No Rep Ind

Dem

Approve 47% 44% 55% 17% 43% 82%
Disapprove 45% 48% 35% 81% 45% 10%
(VOL) No opinion 9% 8% 10% 2% 13% 7%
TREND: Oct.
2015
Sept.
2015
Aug.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Jan.
2015
Dec.
2014
July
2013
Approve 47% 45% 45% 47% 44% 42% 43% 41% 42%
Disapprove 45% 49% 50% 46% 46% 48% 48% 49% 51%
(VOL) No opinion 9% 6% 6% 7% 10% 10% 8% 10% 6%
Unwtd N

1,012

1,009 1,203 1,001 1,002 1,005 1,003 1,008

1,012

  1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the U.S. Congress is doing?

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED VOTER

PARTY ID

Yes

No Rep Ind

Dem

Approve 17% 13% 30% 15% 15% 19%
Disapprove 71% 77% 51% 74% 72% 72%
(VOL) No opinion 12% 10% 19% 11% 13% 8%
TREND: Oct.
2015
Sept.
2015
Aug.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Jan.
2015
Dec.
2014
July
2013
Approve 17% 19% 18% 18% 19% 21% 18% 17% 14%
Disapprove 71% 71% 72% 69% 71% 67% 70% 73% 76%
(VOL) No opinion 12% 11% 11% 12% 10% 12% 11% 11% 10%
Unwtd N

1,012

1,009 1,203 1,001 1,002 1,005 1,003 1,008

1,012

  1. Would you say things in the country are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED VOTER

PARTY ID

Yes

No Rep Ind

Dem

Right direction 24% 21% 32% 10% 21% 40%
Wrong track 66% 68% 59% 86% 69% 43%
(VOL) Depends 6% 7% 5% 2% 4% 13%
(VOL) Don’t know 4% 4% 5% 2% 6% 4%

 

TREND: Oct.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Dec.
2014
July
2013
Right direction 24% 28% 23% 27% 23% 28%
Wrong track 66% 63% 68% 66% 69% 63%
(VOL) Depends 6% 5% 5% 5% 5% 5%
(VOL) Don’t know 4% 3% 3% 2% 3% 4%
Unwtd N

1,012

1,001 1,002 1,005 1,008

1,012

  1. In general, do you think that free trade agreements with different countries are good or bad for the United States, or are you not sure?

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED VOTER

PARTY ID

Yes

No Rep Ind

Dem

Good 24% 23% 26% 23% 24% 24%
Bad 26% 29% 18% 33% 26% 24%
Not sure 46% 45% 51% 41% 45% 50%
(VOL) Depends 3% 3% 5% 3% 5% 2%
  1. Recently, the United States negotiated a free trade agreement with eleven other countries that border the Pacific Ocean, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Have you heard a lot, a little, or nothing at all about this?

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED
VOTER

PARTY ID

Yes No Rep Ind Dem
A lot 12% 15% 4% 11% 10% 18%
A little 47% 48% 41% 52% 46% 48%
Nothing at all 41% 37% 55% 37% 44% 35%
  1. Do you think this agreement will be good or bad for most Americans, will not have much impact on most Americans, or are you not sure?

 

TOTAL REGISTERED VOTER PARTY ID

Yes

No Rep Ind

Dem

Good 11% 10% 12% 5% 13% 12%
Bad 19% 21% 13% 20% 21% 19%
Will not have much impact 10% 9% 12% 12% 7% 11%
Not sure 60% 60% 63% 62% 58% 57%
  1. Do you think NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico that went into effect in 1994, has been good or bad for most Americans, has not had much impact on most Americans, or are you not sure?

 

TOTAL

REGISTERED VOTER

PARTY ID

Yes

No Rep Ind

Dem

Good 18% 17% 21% 12% 19% 23%
Bad 24% 28% 9% 31% 24% 20%
Has not had much impact 16% 15% 17% 19% 15% 14%
Not sure 43% 40% 53% 38% 42% 43%

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from October 15 to 18, 2015 with a national random sample of 1,012 adults age 18 and older.  This includes 712 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 300 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English.  Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information.  Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample).  For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design).  Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below).  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

POLL DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

28% Rep 49% Male 32% 18-34 66% White
42% Ind 51% Female 37% 35-54 12% Black
30% Dem   32% 55+ 15% Hispanic
     

       7% Asian/Other

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with all tables