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Trump voters disappointed by his presidency threaten the GOP

Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

The public's concerns about the president are part of a larger national anxiety: 63 percent of Americans report being stressed about the country's future, according to the most recent Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association.

The chaos of Trump's leadership is also sharpening the nation's cultural divisions. America is nearly as fractured as it was during the trauma of the Vietnam War.

One side, mostly white, sees Trump as tightening America's borders, safeguarding its heritage, standing up for U.S. workers, fighting to cut health care costs, disrupting a corrupt political establishment and calling out lies of the mainstream media.

The other, more diverse, sees him as abusing power for personal gain, stoking prejudice, diminishing America's standing in the world, imperiling the planet by ignoring climate change and threatening to take health care away from millions so he can cut taxes for the rich.

With the nation already on edge, social media and cable news are driving the two factions farther apart.

"Our politics has become so tribal that people filter new information through a lens that tends to reinforce their pre-existing point of view rather than change their point of view," said Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

Trump's most devoted backers remain a strong political base. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday found 91 percent of those who voted for Trump approve of his job performance, and 69 percent of them strongly approve.

Trump has managed to retain that core following even as he relentlessly defies presidential norms -- belittling fellow Republicans in Congress, undercutting his secretary of state, falsely accusing Britain of wiretapping Trump Tower and demanding prosecution of political opponents. Criminal charges against three Trump campaign aides portend more drama in the Russia scandal.

April Pfrogner, of Monongahela, Pa., is unfazed. "I kept my Trump sign until it withered in the wind," she said.

The daughter of a laid-off steelworker, Pfrogner, 42, grew up in a military family in a town where the coal mine shut down. Everyone in the family is a proud "Trumpster," she said. What others see as boorish or belligerent, Pfrogner, a journalism student, sees as refreshing.

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