A Friday piece in Politico Magazine warns that a Hillary Clinton “fumble on trade” could give Donald Trump wins in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan in a general election contest.
In a piece entitled, “How Hillary Loses,” David S. Bernstein writes that the new polls showing Trump ahead of Clinton represent a “terrifying moment for Democrats.”
While Bernstein says one should not read too much into the early polls, he argues that the polling numbers reveal that “there is now a clear path for her to lose” the election.
In particular, Bernstein explains that trade could win Trump Ohio, Wisconsin, and maybe Michigan. Bernstein’s warning in Politico echoes earlier concerns published by the liberal, anti-Trump Huffington Post, which similarly outlined how Trump’s position on trade could deliver him to victory against Clinton.
As soon as the votes were tallied in 2012, Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO and Mary Kay Henry of SEIU were claiming unions had delivered Obama’s victory. They argued, with justification, that Ohio, Wisconsin and Nevada got into the blue column because of a massive turnout effort from labor. But earlier this year, both Trumka and Henry expressed concerns that Trump could flip that script.
“Our members are responding to Trump’s message,” Henry said in one interview. “Donald Trump is tapping into the very real and very understandable anger of working people,” Trumka said in a speech.
It’s not just that these workers are drawn to the raw emotion of Trump’s “you’ve been screwed” rhetoric. Polls show that union households tend to oppose free trade quite strongly. Sanders has made free trade a centerpiece of his primary campaign against Clinton. Trump, hoping to woo Sanders voters, frequently praises his position on that issue.
Union voters largely agree with Trump that trade deals—including those negotiated by Democratic Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton—have taken their jobs away. Hillary Clinton has yet to counter this attack in any meaningful way. Her history on trade has been careful and political, which has left her struggling to articulate a strong argument against Sanders, let alone Trump.