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Majority of Voters Support Free Trade, Immigration: Poll

A majority of American voters support free trade, despite 2016 presidential rhetoric, according to the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Image: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Trump delivers speech in Monessen, Pennsylvania
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech at the Alumisourse Building in Monessen, Pennsylvania, U.S., June 28, 2016.LOUIS RUEDIGER / Reuters

A majority of American voters support free trade, despite the rhetoric from the top 2016 presidential candidates, according to the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

And a majority also believe that immigration helps the country more than it hurts it.

In the national poll, 55 percent of voters agree with the statement that free trade with foreign countries is good for America, because it opens up new markets and because the United States can’t avoid it in a global economy. That sentiment is shared by 60 percent of Democrats, 54 percent of independents and 51 percent of Republicans.

By contrast, 38 percent of voters think that free trade is bad for America, because it has hurt manufacturing and other key industries, and because there is no proof that trade creates better jobs.

These numbers come as Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, has spoken out against free trade. “America has lost nearly one-third of its manufacturing jobs since 1997 - even as the country has increased its population by 50 million people,” he said back in June. “At the center of this catastrophe are two trade deals pushed by Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

And Hillary Clinton, who has supported free trade in the past, reversed her position and now opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Related: Clinton Maintains 5-Point Lead Over Trump on Eve of Conventions

The poll also finds that 56 percent of American voters believe that immigration helps more than it hurts, including 73 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of independents, but just 35 percent of Republicans.

That’s compared with 35 percent of all voters who say that immigration hurts more than it helps, including 55 percent of Republicans, but just 21 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of independents.

In addition, the NBC/WSJ polls shows that 52 percent of voters believe President Obama is in the mainstream when it comes to his approach to issues, and 50 percent say the same thing of Hillary Clinton. But just 40 percent say that Donald Trump is in the mainstream, while 57 percent say he’s out of step.

And 48 percent of respondents believe Democratic congressional candidates are in the mainstream, compared with 31 percent who think the same of GOP congressional candidates.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted July 9-13 of 1,000 registered voters, including 450 cell phone-only respondents and another 44 who were reached on a cell phone but also have a landline. The overall margin of error is plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.