published on International Journal of Public Opinion Research 03 February 2018
Contesting schools of literature argue that trade policy issues are either highly salient or nonsalient to perspective voters. These divergent views obfuscate the fact that trade salience varies significantly over time. This study focuses on the role of citizens’ perceptions of their economic performance relative to national economic trends by combining individual pocketbook perceptions and individual sociotropic considerations of national economic performance to analyze the conditions that cause trade policy to become salient to voters. Using cross-sectional data from multiple waves of the American National Election Studies survey (1992–2012), this study shows that voters are more likely to voice an opinion on trade if they perceive their economic situation to be worse off than the national average.