Trump and trade: Protectionist politics and redistributive policy

Melinda N. Ritchie, Hye Young You

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Do redistributive policies intended to mitigate the costs of trade reduce protectionist backlash? To understand the link between policy making and the electoral consequences of policy outcomes, we address this question using data on redistributive assistance to workers harmed by trade liberalization. By analyzing the 2016 US presidential primary and general election results, we show these redistributive policy benefits are associated with reduced support for then-presidentialcandidate Donald Trump, who ran on an antiglobalization platform. These findings suggest redistributive trade assistance may have a political impact by mitigating support for protectionist platforms and antiglobalization rhetoric of presidential candidates. Our results suggest that the redistributive program we examine in this article may accomplish one of its objectives: To make trade liberalization more politically palatable. This article extends findings in the extant literature on antiincumbency effects to suggest that policy outcomes affect electoral support for candidates with antiglobalization platforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)800-805
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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