During the first 15 months of Trump’s presidency, The Washington Post traveled intermittently through this region, holding extended and sometimes repeated interviews with county party leaders and local elected officials or at random with citizens in coffee shops, restaurants, grocery stores and other gathering points. What follows is not a scientific survey of the country. Instead, it is a story of how attitudes toward the president have changed gradually over time, told through the voices of a selection of people in a unique ecosystem of Trump Nation.
Among the president’s true loyalists, his grip remains strong. Among others who supported him, that hold has weakened. Almost no one, even his most ardent supporters, appreciates the president’s tweets, although for some it is less the content that offends them and more the worry that it reveals a volatile president unable to control his impulses.
But there is a deeper unease that filters through conversations with some of those who voted for him, a recognition that to gain something, they must give something — that to see policy changes they favor they must tolerate behavior they sometimes find inexcusable. For Trump, political risk lies in the degree to which dissatisfaction with the disorder and conduct outweigh any achievements that his voters expected to see. That holds implications for this November’s midterm elections but even more so for 2020.
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