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National Politics|By Charlie Cook, February 10, 2017

This story was originally published on nationaljournal.com on February 7, 2017

Two things seem abund­antly clear right now. First, Pres­id­ent Trump’s agenda and pri­or­it­ies are ex­actly what he laid out in his bois­ter­ous cam­paign. No one should be sur­prised by what he is do­ing. Second, the di­vi­sions over Can­did­ate Trump mir­ror the per­cep­tions of Pres­id­ent Trump. Des­pite the con­tro­ver­sies of his early days in of­fice, his back­ers have mainly held fast.

Trump lost the na­tion­al pop­u­lar vote by 2 per­cent­age points, 48 to 46 per­cent. Polling last week sug­gests there has been a little de­teri­or­a­tion for him, but not that much. The Feb. 1-2 CBS News poll shows Trump with a 40 per­cent ap­prov­al rat­ing, down 6 points from his elec­tion per­form­ance, with 48 per­cent ex­press­ing dis­ap­prov­al (the same per­cent­age who voted for Hil­lary Clin­ton). The Gal­lup Or­gan­iz­a­tion’s track­ing poll for Feb. 3-5 put Trump’s ap­prov­al rat­ing at 42 per­cent and dis­ap­prov­al at 52 per­cent. The Jan. 31-Feb. 2 CNN/ORC poll put Trump’s ap­prov­al a touch high­er at 44 per­cent, with the dis­ap­prov­al also high­er at 53 per­cent. The av­er­age of the three polls puts Trump’s ap­prov­al rat­ing at 42 per­cent, with 51 per­cent dis­ap­prov­ing, which comes to a net minus-9.

It’s the in­tern­al num­bers that cre­ate the echo of last year. The CBS poll showed 84 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans ap­prov­ing of Trump’s per­form­ance so far, with 8 per­cent dis­ap­prov­ing, while it was pre­cisely the op­pos­ite among Demo­crats. Among in­de­pend­ents, 36 per­cent ap­proved and 46 per­cent dis­ap­proved.

The CNN/ORC poll showed 89 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans ap­proved of Trump’s per­form­ance so far and 10 per­cent dis­ap­proved (+79); among Demo­crats, 89 per­cent dis­ap­proved and 10 per­cent ap­proved (-81), while 41 per­cent of in­de­pend­ents ap­proved and 55 per­cent dis­ap­proved (-14). Go­ing deep­er in­to the CNN poll, 51 per­cent of men ap­proved and 47 per­cent dis­ap­proved (+4), while 38 per­cent of wo­men ap­proved and 58 per­cent dis­ap­proved (-20). Among whites, 53 per­cent ap­proved and 45 per­cent dis­ap­proved (+8), while only 28 per­cent of non­whites ap­proved and 70 per­cent dis­ap­proved (-42).

Among whites, just 38 per­cent of col­lege gradu­ates ap­proved and 59 per­cent dis­ap­proved (-21), but 59 per­cent of non-col­lege-gradu­ate whites ap­proved and just 38 per­cent dis­ap­proved (+21). Trump’s ap­prov­al rat­ing in urb­an areas was just 32 per­cent, with dis­ap­prov­al at 64 per­cent, while sub­urb­an adults split evenly at 49 per­cent, and 64 per­cent of rur­al Amer­ic­ans ap­proved and 36 per­cent dis­ap­proved (+28).

Among people un­der 45 years of age, 33 per­cent ap­proved of Trump’s per­form­ance and 63 per­cent dis­ap­proved (-30), while people 45 and older ap­proved by 53 to 45 per­cent (+8). Of re­spond­ents aged 18 through 34, 32 per­cent ap­proved and 64 per­cent dis­ap­proved (-28), while those aged 35 through 49 showed 39 per­cent ap­prov­al and 58 per­cent dis­ap­prov­al (-19). Trump does much bet­ter among older people: 56 per­cent of those aged 50 through 64 years ap­proved and 43 per­cent dis­ap­proved (+13); of the 65-and-above group, 53 per­cent ap­proved and 46 per­cent dis­ap­proved (+7).

This gen­er­a­tion gap should con­cern Re­pub­lic­ans. On the oth­er hand, since young­er voters are least likely to vote in midterm elec­tions, Demo­crats should not count on big wins next year—at least on the fed­er­al level, where they have much more ex­pos­ure in the Sen­ate and where House con­gres­sion­al dis­trict lines fa­vor Re­pub­lic­ans. Races for gov­ernor and state le­gis­latures provide more op­por­tun­it­ies for Demo­crats, though the turnout dy­nam­ics will still tend to work against them. Still, Re­pub­lic­ans should re­mem­ber that it is the angry and dis­af­fected who tend to vote dis­pro­por­tion­ately in midterm elec­tions, which is why they usu­ally go badly for the party in the White House.

In short, the battle lines this year look pretty much the way they did be­fore the elec­tion. Trump has lost a little ground among in­de­pend­ents, but there have been few con­ver­sions. His base loves the sub­stance of what he is do­ing, though it’s reas­on­able to as­sume that many would prefer to see a smooth­er rol­lout. To his crit­ics, Trump has been every bit as bad as they feared.

The theme of the first two weeks of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has been to push out ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders aimed at de­liv­er­ing as much of his agenda as pos­sible, but be­fore long the grind of run­ning an ad­min­is­tra­tion will be­gin. That means Trump will have to do those gov­ern­ing things that pres­id­ents are re­quired to do, and his staff will need to learn how to work with Con­gress and deal with the news me­dia.

It will also be a time when Trump either grows in­to the job or be­comes bored with it. He entered of­fice with only a tenu­ous grasp of what it en­tailed. Does he be­come more en­gaged with its work de­mands or con­tent him­self with the ce­re­mo­ni­al as­pects of the job, leav­ing the gov­ern­ing to staff? If the lat­ter, are the Al­pha Dogs today go­ing to be the Al­pha Dogs next year? As is usu­ally the case, pres­id­en­tial aides are busy jock­ey­ing for po­s­i­tion.

But at least as far as the Amer­ic­an people are con­cerned, very little has changed since the weeks lead­ing in­to the elec­tion. Those who liked him then still do, and those who didn’t still don’t.