International Relations Scholars on the Election

November 1, 2016 7:00 AM

In addition to policy positions of the candidates on the Korean peninsula and Asia more generally, we have weighed in on the candidates’ trade policies (via Marc Noland’s detailed study of the issue) and we have covered opinion on trade policy as well; our Election Watch posts are linked below. With one week to go before the election, this will be the last entry in our series, and it is a self-referential one: what scholars of international relations (IR) think about the election.

At The Monkey Cage, Daniel Maliniak, Susan Peterson, Hannah Petrie, Ryan Powers and Michael Tierney (several of whom are former students at UCSD) describe their snap poll of IR scholars from the Teaching, Research and International Policy (TRIP) Project. The pool includes responses from 744 of the 4,078 IR scholars teaching and/or researching at colleges and universities in the US. Even if we control for the liberal lean of academia (340 respondents describe themselves as “liberal”) and self-selection, the findings track skepticism among foreign policy practitioners, including within the GOP itself.

82% responded that Secretary Clinton’s were most aligned with their views, while agreement with Mr. Trump (at 4%) fell below that of 14% who chose a third-party candidate, other national political figure, or some variation on “none of the above.” Among the 121 respondents who defined themselves as “moderate” and the 68 who self-identified as “conservative” we also see doubts about Mr. Trump’s foreign policy views. Among the conservatives, almost 50% identified themselves as more closely aligned with Clinton’s foreign policy while less than 10% of conservatives thought Mr. Trump reflected their views. 

The Monkey Cage story does not convey all of the results, but the full poll results here link to several Asia-related questions. One battery asked respondents whether the election of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would “lead China to doubt our commitment to the defense of” Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. The South Korea results are exemplary: 95.5% stated that the election of Secretary Clinton would not affect US credibility, while 70.5% believed that the election of Mr. Trump would have adverse effects.

On trade, the IR profession tends to be internationalist, with 86% agreeing with the statement that involvement with the global economy “is a good thing because it provides the U.S. with new markets and opportunities for growth”; only 2% said it was a bad thing because it lowers wages and costs jobs. Not surprisingly, answers to questions about the TPP show disagreements with the trade policies of both candidates. 71% somewhat support or strongly support TPP, with 18% somewhat or strongly opposing it. But there is some cynicism about Clinton’s position on the issue. When asked whether she would continue to oppose the agreement if elected, fully 67% thought that she would walk back her opposition; only 13% believe she would hold fast to her campaign position. That may be a good thing for US trade policy if Secretary Clinton is elected, but also reflects her own credibility problems.

Election Watch: Witness to Transformation posts on the contest for the presidency:

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Stephan Haggard Senior Research Staff