Trump has more maneuver room than his opponents might expect
Donald Trump will be inaugurated Friday as a historically unpopular new president elected in a close election but one with a landslide level of political capital to spend with Republicans in Congress.He and the GOP congress have the potential to break the gridlock and be really productive. I expect them to seize that opportunity and put the Democrats further back on their heels.
Trump's approval rating is underwater in nine public opinion polls conducted since Jan. 1, averaging 41 percent in the RealClearPolitics.com average — horrible numbers for a president-elect. But Trump's position with congressional Republicans couldn't be better.
Whether out of fear of reprisal, excitement about what they can accomplish together legislatively, or awe over how he won the presidency, Republicans are prepared to give Trump more room to maneuver than a politician in his position might expect.
Trump's strong connection with his populist base is one reason Republicans are inclined to follow the president-elect's leadership, despite his low approval numbers.
House and Senate Republicans have to win re-nomination next year in advance of the midterms, and few want to be on the other end of Trump Twitter bomb that pushes voters toward any opponent who might challenge them in a primary.
Republicans also are impressed with how Trump won. He lost the national popular vote by a few million.
But the New York real estate magnate, having never run for office before, defeated more than a dozen primary opponents. And then, without the help of much of his party, he won a strong Electoral College victory by seizing three states the GOP hadn't won in a presidential election in three decades and that have long functioned as a sort of Republican Holy Grail: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.