This past weekend marked the midway point between the last presidential inauguration and the next one. The contours of the race to decide who gets to deliver the next inaugural address are already beginning to emerge, and it promises to be no less spectacular than the last one. My research over the last two years, including a survey of 15,000 people conducted after November’s midterm elections, gives some clues as to how the battle might unfold.
President Trump’s base remains as happy as it was on the night of his victory. Supporters point to a thriving economy stoked by tax cuts and deregulation, two conservative Supreme Court appointments, a combative approach to international affairs and global trade deals, and a tough line on immigration and border security. They like that he continues to say exactly what he thinks and enjoy the fury this arouses. And if his statements don’t always line up with the facts, they see him as honest in what is to them the more important sense that, at least as they see it, he is doing the things he said he would – a rare enough trait in a politician. Meanwhile, most of those who voted against Trump in 2016 are every bit as horrified by his presidency as they expected to be.