This week has seen Trump enact his steel and aluminium tariffs on allies including European allies, Canada and Mexico, all in the name of “national security”. Such tariffs will be exceptionally unwelcome for those outside of the US. However, what is interesting is the potential effect they could have on the Midterms. What potential effects could the tariffs have in the Midterm elections?
Overall, I would argue that the tariffs will have a negative effect on the Midterms and on the re-election chances of Donald Trump. I would even go so far to say that this decision may even be the policy that hurts him the most. The Republicans were doing moderately well in the polls, reducing the Democratic lead in the House of Representatives to such an extent that potentially the Democrats may not win the House back. This could be attributed to the impression voters have on the economy, that while Donald Trump may not be liked as a person, at least he gets the economy moving.
The tariffs may help improve Donald Trump’s appeal among blue-collar Americans in Rust Belt states such as Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania. However, this may have little to no effect on the Republican party as a whole. Why is this the case? Recent elections in strong-Trump districts show Democrats winning on strong union platforms with support from Trump voting blue-collar workers, the best example of this is in Pennsylvania where a Democrat won in a district where Donald Trump won by 60% of the vote. Democrats have actually support the deal in Trump voting states whilst attacking Republican opponents who have been free trade. This exactly what the Democrats are doing in the certain senate races such as Ohio senator Sherrod Brown.
For the Republican party, the tariffs have come at a bad time. With 5 months to go until the Midterm elections, the tariffs could have a negative effect on the economy. The tariffs are predicted to have a net loss of jobs predicted in the thousands. Ironically, the job losses from the tariffs maybe higher in states that actually voted for him such as Michigan and Wisconsin. On top of this, it divides The Republican party in a critical election cycle which could allow the redrawing of electoral districts for decades to come. The business wing of The Republican party is completely against the tariffs because of its opposition to free trade. The Republican party’s division could be exploited by the Democrats who will benefit from both the tariffs in blue-collar areas and in non-industrial areas.
Article by Daniel Clemence