Voters are much more focused on the economy and jobs than they are on the deficit and debt, and they see manufacturing as a key component of improving the American economy. Those were among the key findings of a national poll and focus groups conducted on behalf of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. Poll respondents said they believe that manufacturing is "central and irreplaceable" in determining the strength of the economy of the United States. The results show increasing support for U.S. industry, growing concern over China's role in our economy and a strong sense that no one in Washington is doing anything to improve the job situation. Nearly 90% of Americans favor a national manufacturing plan that includes "Buy American" provisions, that cracks down on unfair trade practices by countries such as China, and that includes incentives for research and development.
The AAM said the purpose of the poll was to send a "wake-up call" to Washington. In particular, the organization points out that Republican leaders (and to a lesser extent, Democratic leaders) are significantly out of touch with their constituents. The polling showed consistent results across party lines and including the majority of tea party-identified voters. Representative quotes from voters in the focus groups were: "We become a third world country if we lose manufacturing" and "The playing field isn't even, China is cheating."
Other key numbers from the poll:
-When given an “either/or” choice, just 29% want Washington to focus on deficit reduction while 67% favor job creation.
-Less than a third (32%) believe the U.S. is the world’s strongest economy, with the plurality (39%) saying it is China. Yet, 88% believe it is possible for the U.S. to have the strongest economy in the world and 95% feel that it is either very or somewhat important.
-“Creating manufacturing jobs in the U.S.” and “strengthening manufacturing in this country” are the top voter priorities for the President.
-Only 50% of voters believe that the President is working to create manufacturing jobs – an 11% drop from 2010. Congress fares even worse – 41% say Democrats in Congress are working to create jobs, and 32% see the GOP working to create jobs.
-90% have a favorable view of American manufacturing companies – up 22% from 2010.
-97% have a favorable view of U.S.-made goods – up 5% from 2010.
-32% identified manufacturing as the “most important” sector for our economic strength – surpassing all other sectors by a wide margin. 54% identified it in their “top two.”
-62% say that that manufacturing is a “critical part of the American economy” and reject the view that high-tech and services will replace it.72% have an unfavorable view of goods made in China and 83% have an unfavorable view of companies that go to China to manufacture.
-86% favor a national manufacturing strategy “to make sure that economic, tax, labor and trade policies in this country work together to help support manufacturing…” – up 8% from 2010.
-87% see a role for government in supporting manufacturing – 49% say “whatever is necessary” and another 38% for limited role of “incentives, and trade policy.”
-94% support a tax benefit for companies that conduct R&D in the U.S. and make their new products here.
-91% support increasing investment in “retraining and education programs to ensure workers gain the tools they need to compete in modern, high-tech factories – up 4% from 2010.
-90% support Buy American policies “to ensure that taxpayer funded government projects use only U.S.-made goods and supplies wherever possible.”
-90% support tax incentives for companies that “invest in new equipment and plants for manufacturing.”
-89% support investing “more in rebuilding and repairing bridges, roads, and other basic infrastructure.”
-95% favor keeping “America’s trade laws strong and strictly enforced to provide a level playing field for our workers and businesses.”
-59% say we need to “get tough with China and use every possible means to stop their unfair trade practices…” – only 34% say we need to “be careful…because they own such a significant portion of our debt.”
On Thursday, the AAM held a conference call to reveal the findings from a national survey and several focus groups of likely 2012 voters. The results were compiled by the Mellman Group and Ayres & McHenry. AAM will continue to poll these topics regularly to make sure that the media and Washington politicians know what the people's priorities are in the areas of jobs and manufacturing.
The full report is available on the AAM website.