In a trade war, who might suf­fer most? Trump vot­ers.

The Washington Post Sunday - - TAKING STOCK - BY ANA SWAN­SON ana.swan­son@wash­post.com

Pres­i­dent Trump has promised sweep­ing changes to trade pol­icy, in­clud­ing with­draw­ing from the Pa­cific Rim pact forged un­der for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama and rene­go­ti­at­ing the terms of the U.S. trade deal with Mex­ico and Canada.

New re­search in­di­cates that these bold mea­sures could have the big­gest im­pact for those who voted for Trump — for bet­ter or for worse. In a re­cent re­port, the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion’s Met­ro­pol­i­tan Pol­icy Pro­gram ranks the U.S. cities with economies most closely tied to trade and finds that they dis­pro­por­tion­ately voted for Trump.

The data shows that the coun­ties that voted for Hil­lary Clin­ton in the 2016 elec­tion ac­tu­ally pro­duced the largest amount of ex­ports over­all — about 58 per­cent of the coun­try’s ex­ports in 2015. But the coun­ties that voted for Trump were more de­pen­dent on ex­ports, mean­ing trade gen­er­ated a larger pro­por­tion of their over­all eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. That’s be­cause Clin­ton vot­ers dis­pro­por­tion­ately live in Amer­ica’s ma­jor cities, which are large, di­verse economies that con­tain var­i­ous in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing, en­ter­tain­ment and tourism. Mean­while, Trump won many small Mid­west­ern and South­ern cities whose economies are cen­tered on one or two ex­port goods.

You can see these trends in the charts. Larger cities of more than 500,000 res­i­dents rely on ex­ports for less of their gross do­mes­tic prod­uct and were more likely to lean to­ward Clin­ton. But in smaller cities where a greater pro­por­tion of eco­nomic growth comes from ex­ports, vot­ers were more likely to vote for Trump. In to­tal, ex­ports made up 13 per­cent of lo­cal GDP in coun­ties won by Trump, com­pared with 10 per­cent in coun­ties won by Clin­ton, the data shows.

That means Trump vot­ers would prob­a­bly end up feel­ing the heav­i­est ef­fects from changes to trade, the re­searchers say. If new poli­cies end up pre­serv­ing Amer­i­can jobs and boost­ing ex­ports, that could be a good thing for these com­mu­ni­ties. But if Trump’s bold trade ac­tions end up spark­ing re­tal­i­a­tion or even a desta­bi­liz­ing trade war, it could be deeply harm­ful for his sup­port­ers. More at wash­ing­ton­post.com/wonkblog

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