Trump's tariffs are unpopular in key midterm states Texas, Pennsylvania and Illinois: NBC News/Marist polls

Key Points
  • In three important midterm states, President Donald Trump's tariff policy is failing to catch on.
  • In Pennsylvania, Texas and Illinois, a plurality of adults say the duties will raise costs for consumers and harm the U.S. economy.
  • Trump won the White House partly on a promise to crack down on unfair trade practices.
A worker cuts a steel coil at the Novolipetsk Steel PAO steel mill in Farrell, Pennsylvania.
Aaron Josefczyk | Reuters

President Donald Trump's tariff policy has failed to catch on in three states critical to this year's midterm elections.

A solid plurality of adults in Pennsylvania, Texas and Illinois say the duties will raise the cost of consumer goods and hurt the U.S. economy, according to NBC News/Marist polls released this week. The results do not bode well politically for Trump, who won the White House in part by promising to crack down on unfair trade practices and revive manufacturing in states such as Pennsylvania.

Trade turmoil: Tariff troubles worry agri-business

Firms in some industries, particularly steel and aluminum, have cheered Trump's tariffs on foreign metals imports or other duties imposed on major trading partners. But certain business and GOP lawmakers have slammed the president's widening trade conflicts with countries such as China, worrying that a back-and-forth tariff war could hurt consumers and damage American farmers.

Here's how tariffs are viewed in those three states:

  • Pennsylvania: The Keystone State, one of the areas Trump specifically targeted with his trade rhetoric, is not cheering the tariffs. Only 28 percent of registered voters there believe the moves will protect jobs and boost the economy, versus 46 percent who think they will raise costs for Americans and hurt the economy, according to an NBC/Marist poll released Thursday. Fourteen percent responded that the tariffs will have minimal effect. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is one of the most vocal GOP congressional critics of Trump's tariffs. Pennsylvania will play host to Senate and gubernatorial races, as well as some of the most important House contests this year. The survey showed that voters favor Democrats in those races.
  • Texas: Texas, a red state, showed the most enthusiasm for tariffs out of the three areas. Thirty-three percent of registered voters there believe they will help the economy and shield American jobs, versus 40 percent who think they will harm the economy and make goods more expensive, an NBC/Marist poll released Wednesday found. Fifteen percent say the tariffs will not have much of an effect. In Texas this year, a Senate and gubernatorial contest will take place, along with a handful of competitive House races. Those races in Texas largely favor Republicans, according to the poll.
  • Illinois: A mere 23 percent of adults in Illinois think Trump's tariffs will help the economy and protect jobs, according to an NBC/Marist poll released Tuesday. That compares with 42 percent of adults who think the duties will be a drag on the economy and put more of a burden on consumers. Twenty percent of adults in the state think the policy will have little effect. Voters will cast ballots in a high-profile gubernatorial race and multiple contested House races in Illinois this year.