As President Donald Trump weighs a momentous escalation of the China trade war, the American public is closely divided over his handling of the conflict. The IBD/TIPP Poll found that 40% rate Trump's handling of the China trade issue as excellent or good, while 39% judge it to be poor or unacceptable.
That's far worse than the approval of Trump's handling of the economy. On that score, 51% give Trump positive reviews and just 30% negative.
Among rural voters, a linchpin of Trump's support, 50% give the president positive marks on handling China trade. That's far worse than the 67% of rural voters who back his handling of the economy and 59% who approve of his handling of the presidency.
The China trade war has especially high stakes for American farmers. China retaliated for Trump tariffs by placing tariffs on soybeans and other agricultural goods. Yet, farmers could end up being the biggest winners of the conflict. A China trade deal would reportedly boost pre-conflict Chinese purchases of U.S. agriculture by $30 billion a year.
Trump China Trade Polling Preceded Sunday's Tweets
The IBD/TIPP Poll reflects 900 responses from April 26 to May 5. During the polling period, trade tensions between the U.S. and China had ebbed to a large degree. A China trade deal was expected to be finalized soon, perhaps this week.
Yet Trump blew up those expectations with a few tweets on Sunday and Monday. Trump essentially declared that he was out of patience, with the trade deal moving "too slowly" and China trying to "renegotiate."
Tariffs of 10% on $200 billion in Chinese imports "will go up to 25% on Friday," Trump tweeted. Soon after, he said, the U.S. will follow with 25% tariffs on $325 billion in Chinese goods that remain untaxed.
Trump Trade And Investors
Wall Street doesn't know what to make of the threat. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 opened sharply lower in the stock market today, but closed down less than 0.5%.
At least up until Sunday, self-described investors were modestly supportive of Trump's handling of China trade: 44% gave him positive reviews, while 36% gave him a negative rating. Among noninvestors, just 32% approve of his handling of China trade, while 44% disapprove.
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