A Bright Morning for Free Trade

It's a bright morning for those of us who favor free trade. Just as fantasy football team owners may follow NFL games with their own peculiar rooting interests, trade aficionados watched certain of yesterday's election races with particular attention.

Depending on which fantasy trade lineup you used, the results fell just short of a clean sweep for trade. The New York Times fantasy team listed Senator-elect Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) as trade skeptics and they all won. Arguably, though, there was a lot more going on in those races. The story was different for Times House players, however. Democrat Rep. Zack Space in Ohio tried to deploy the China card, and lost. In Colorado, Republican challenger Ryan Frazier tried to link incumbent Democrat Rep. Ed Perlmutter to shipping jobs to China and failed to oust him, despite the broader trend of the election.

The results are even starker if you follow a Foreign Policy scorecard from late September. Max Strasser identified five races in the Midwest in which the trade critic played the "red-menace card" and linked his opponent to China trade. That particular Democrat fantasy team: Ohio Lt. Governor Lee Fisher (running for the Senate); Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (running to keep his job), U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak (running for the Senate in Pennsylvania); Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero (Michigan gubernatorial candidate); and Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (running for the President Obama's old Senate seat). They were swept last night. 0 for 5.

In many of these races, one could quibble about how important the trade issue really was to the outcome. If there were a single race, though, in which trade emerged as the central issue, it was the race for the Senate in Ohio. Rob Portman, former U.S. Trade Representative, was blasted for his role in pursuing trade agreements and supporting open markets. Or, rather, I should say, 'Senator-elect' Portman was blasted; he won with over 57 percent of the vote, compared to Lee Fisher's 39.

Philip I. Levy is a resident scholar at AEI.

Photo Credit: iStockphoto/dan_prat

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