Mr. Trump’s ability to appeal to these voters is the reason he won and the reason his base isn’t abandoning him, with or without a significant legislative victory at the six-month mark. Emily Ekins, a Cato Institute scholar who is part of a politically diverse team of academics and pollsters in the process of analyzing the 2016 election, told me on Monday that Trump supporters are less concerned about his policy agenda and more interested in having someone who understands them occupy the Oval Office. The president’s relentless rhetoric about the “costs” of illegal immigration and free trade, his attacks on outsourcing, and this week’s White House “Made in America” stunt are all of a piece.
“I think there’s a lot of evidence to support the idea that Trump’s main appeal was validating the fears and concerns of a certain segment of Americans who felt they were being ignored by elites in the media, elites in politics, elite Republicans,” said Ms. Ekins. “My reading of the data is that he’s not on a timer or a clock. And it’s not clear to me that his supporters are waiting for him to achieve X, Y and Z policy goals. That’s an example of the press imposing their expectations on voters.”