Economists are, overwhelmingly, free traders. A 2006 poll of Ph.D. members of the American Economic Association found that 87.5 percent agreed that “the U.S. should eliminate remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade.”
With the two political parties apparently divided on trade policy, you might expect those free-trade-loving economists to be predominantly Republicans. But that’s not the case. One reason is that economists are not single-issue voters. Like everyone else, they are divided over contentious issues like health policy, the Bush tax cuts and the war in Iraq.
BUT another reason is that many economists don’t really believe the populist rhetoric coming from the Clinton and Obama campaigns. … It is hard to be confident, however, that on issues of trade policy either Democratic candidate would act like the last Democratic president. Maybe the candidates’ records as legislators are not good indicators of what their policies might be as president. Maybe campaign rhetoric about NAFTA is nothing more than that. But counting on it requires, one might say, the audacity of hope.