Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Cameron Shelton

Reader 2

Manfred Keil

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© 2017 Xiaoyang Qian


In this paper we analyze the impact of global imports on regional labor markets, and how such impact translates to changes in voting patterns in the U.S. Presidential elections from 2000 to 2016. We find that imports from different U.S. trading partners influence voting patterns in different ways. In particular, we observe an anti-incumbent effect caused by import competition from OECD countries. Such an effect cannot be observed for imports from low-income countries. There is also evidence that suggests high exposure to import competition tends to drive voters toward the Democratic candidate, who typically proposes better social welfare programs and more protectionist policies. For imports from low-income countries, evidence for such effects is less robust, but still significant. Despite the voters’ earlier alignment toward the Democrats, we observe a significant voter realignment toward the Republican candidate in the 2016 election due to sudden changes in the Republicans’ stance on global trade. Taken together, these results paint a picture of how the voters’ sentiment towards global trade evolves throughout time and varies with regards to different U.S. trading partners.