By Hastings Wyman –
The late Ed Koch, mayor of the Big Apple, used to ask New Yorkers, “How’m I doin?” So although President Trump has been in office only one week, it’s been quite a week, and it’s already worth asking, “How’s he doin’?”
If you were in Washington, DC, where New Yorker Donald Trump received 4% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 91%, where anti-Trump demonstrations are held almost daily and reported on the local news, where the Washington Post publishes a front-page article critical of him almost daily, and where most folks watch cable news’ nightly hostile analysis of his every move, you could be forgiven for believing that the new president has barely enough public support to function.
But although Trump’s approval ratings are low by historic standards, his fans and his foes are just about even after his first few days in office.
Moreover, in the South, which was almost solid in its support for Trump on Election Day, Trump’s early actions in office get some near-rave reviews.
Marty Connors, a former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, says of Trump’s first week, “Everybody’s applauding it pretty much… There’s lots of action going on. More action than I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen anything like it. People like it after watching Obama for eight years. Trump is retreating from Obama as fast as he can. Alabamians love it.”
Barney Bishop, a Tallahassee-based political analyst, says, “All of the conservative Republicans and Democrats in Tallahassee and in North Florida are extremely impressed with his cabinet nominees, especially three former generals. And it’s interesting to see Southerners in the cabinet, like Sonny Perdue, Nikki Halley and Jeff Sessions. It gives a lot of comfort to Southerners that Trump wouldn’t be a RINO, that he’s not relying on his New York contacts… People were tired of the mainstream media fawning over Obama. They are also happy to see [Trump’s] executive orders, especially on pipelines and on immigration. I haven’t heard anyone complain. They see it as necessary for him to put his stamp on this administration.”
He does note, however, that Florida is a big import/export state and it is not clear how Trump’s policies will affect trade.
Mike McCarville of The McCarville report says, “Here in Oklahoma I think he’s been received very well. I don’t hear many complaints. The Democrats and liberals are screaming their heads off, but they’re not in his camp anyway.”
Even those critical, or uneasy, over Trump believe he still has substantial support among those who voted for him. “He still has a following in the South, except in Virginia,” says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, “where opposition to him has hardened.” He notes that several of Trump’s actions have focused on issues that are popular in the South, such as immigration and spending cuts.
Ferrel Guillory, director of UNC’s Program on Public Life, says, “The first thing to say, a fairly substantial number turned out over the weekend for the women’s march. There was one in Raleigh. There were several thousand people, 20,000 according to one estimate, which is probably high. That’s not the only thing, but it is one piece of evidence that North Carolina is a swing state and it’s going to remain a swing state. My sense is that [Trump] hasn’t won over folks that didn’t vote for him. I suspect that Trump voters haven’t left him yet, but are watching him warily. He got a bad launch. The television coverage was full of controversy about misstatements.”
Guillory adds that Governor Roy Cooper (D) “has made his move to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. We may get some interaction between the new governor and Trump over this. It’s an unresolved issue, but a live one.”
Chip Felkel, a political and business consultant in Greenville, South Carolina, says:
“Campaigning is a lot different than running a country. The rule book as we know it has not changed. His shtick will wear thin…
“Voters wanted change. They got it. What will it lead to? He doesn’t have an ideological core.”
Trump’s tangential moves, often on Twitter, on such matters as the size of the crowd at his inauguration and how he really won the popular vote come in for significant criticism, even from those who admire his policies.
Bishop says, “I’d rather he did not talk about fraudulent voting. Go forward; don’t waste time talking about the past.”
Sabato says, “Like everywhere else, the South probably wishes he would focus more on his governing and less on his ego.”
And Felkel says, “He needs to get off Twitter. Presidents are not allowed to think out loud… Life and governing are a lot more complicated than 140 characters.”