- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 28, 2017

Despite an onslaught of ridicule from the national media, chiding from their neighbors and repeated public relations flare-ups from the White House, President Trump’s voters remain remarkably loyal to him, pollsters and analysts say.

These voters reject notions that they should regret their vote, saying that their frustration is not with Mr. Trump but with the resistance mounted by Democrats determined to stymie Mr. Trump at every turn.

But they also blame much of the stalled Trump agenda on congressional Republicans — party leaders, hard-line conservatives and moderates whose squabbling caused major problems in the Obamacare repeal effort.

Kevin Madden, a Republican Party strategist, said Trump voters are invested.

“They still want to see their support validated and still believe it can pay off,” Mr. Madden said. “They have less trust in the people and the institutions that are trying to convince them they made the wrong choice, like the media and political elites, than they do the president himself.”

Polls — including a series released around the 100-day mark of his presidency — have consistently found the tales of Trump voters abandoning ship are few and far between. Instead, most of Mr. Trump’s supporters see him as a powerful leader and celebrate his crusade against political correctness and his combative approach to the news media.

They have forgiven him for backing off some of the promises he made on the campaign trail by chalking it up to the fact that he is still getting acclimated to the job and has never been a politician.

Their primary concern is that he tweets too much.

A Fox News survey showed 97 percent of Trump backers remained satisfied with their vote, while 2 percent wished they voted differently. A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 96 percent of Trump voters said that supporting Mr. Trump was the right thing to do and 2 percent said they regret their decision.

A University of Virginia Center for Politics and Public Opinion Strategies poll showed 93 percent of Mr. Trump’s backers approved of the job he was doing, compared with 52 percent for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and 28 percent for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — the Republican leaders responsible for pushing the Trump agenda through Congress.

“They are more loyal [to Mr. Trump] than they are to the GOP, but they are still anti-Democrat and much more inclined to support the GOP,” said Glen Bolger, of Public Opinion Strategies. “There are not a whole lot of Trump voters who say, ‘I am ready to defect.’ That is not to say that a year from now things might be different.”

Cable news networks are making a cottage industry of finding Trump voters who may have fallen off the bandwagon. They have run a torrent of stories seeking out Trump voters who could end up suffering under the work-in-progress health care bill or from his proposed budget cuts.

CNNMoney last week ran a story about one Trump voter who lives on Social Security disability checks. Mr. Trump’s budget calls for encouraging those on disability to try to get back to work.

CNNMoney said it reached out to a dozen Trump voters “who either rely on government aid to live or who work closely with the poor. Most were surprised” by the network’s claims about the Trump budget.

That kind of relentless negative focus is met with derision by Trump loyalists who loathe the press.

The UVa. survey found 88 percent of respondents “said that media criticism of Trump reinforces that the president is on the right track, and the same percentage agreed with Trump’s assertion that the press is ‘the enemy of the American people.’”

The Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 8 in 10 Trump supporters believed news organizations regularly publish false stories.

Overall, Mr. Trump’s approval rating is underwater, according to polls, as the White House struggles with accusations that campaign operatives had ties to Russian officials.

The recent firing of FBI Director James B. Comey also ignited calls by Democratic activists, and even a few members of Congress, for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Democrats hope that the anti-Trump wave, coupled with Trump defections, could help them make serious gains in congressional elections next year.

So far, however, anti-Trump sentiment has failed them at the polls. Republicans have won two special congressional elections to maintain Republican-held districts. Still the Republican candidates in each race won by considerably less than the double-digit margins of victory Mr. Trump himself rolled up in those districts.

“I haven’t seen any evidence that his core support has faded,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “What may be more important is whether the opposition is hardening. In other words, are folks who have been saying that Trump is not really doing a great job shifting to the view that he is actually being harmful?”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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