No second thoughts: Voters who put Donald Trump in the White House like what he's done so far to shake things up, just as he promised to do during his campaign.
But while a panel of Trump supporters gives the new president stellar ratings — 25 of 25 approve of the job he's doing — many also warn that he picks unnecessary fights and tweets too much. Even in the immediate afterglow of his inauguration, only a third predict history ultimately will judge him as a "great" president, and most see deep and worrisome divisions in the nation.
Whatever the disruptions, Deidra Brady argues it's time to try new approaches to the country's problems. "Go to any sports team, and if something is not working, they change and make different choices and try something new," says the 48-year-old sales manager from Broadway, N.C. "This is what we have to do."
That's the first take by a new USA TODAY Network panel of 25 Trump voters from 19 states, drawn from respondents in the USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll in December. The Trump Voter Panel — 18 men and seven women, ranging in age from 31 to 88 years old — have agreed to weigh in occasionally for a measure of how the president they helped elect is faring.
In interviews following Trump's tumultuous opening days in the Oval Office, their appetite for the sort of political upheaval that helped propel the real-estate mogul and political novice to the White House is unabated. They applaud the president's seeming tirelessness and the steps he's taken already to deliver on campaign promises, including his controversial executive action on immigration.
To tell you the truth, he stirred up some waters ... but everything he did this week were things he said he was going to do, so there should not be any shock about it. -- Anne-Marie Smith, 61, a computer analyst from New York
And they remain unshaken by the massive demonstrations against him, first at the Women's March on Washington the day after he was sworn in, then in protests at airports and elsewhere last weekend against his order temporarily blocking immigrants from seven majority-Muslim nations and refugees from Syria.
That said, many of these Trump backers say the president has yet to adjust to all of the realities of his new job.
"A majority of the people are in a wait-and-see kind of thing, and that's fair even if you voted for him," says Anne-Marie Smith, 61, a computer analyst from the hamlet of Monsey, in Rockland County, N.Y. "To tell you the truth, he stirred up some waters ... but everything he did this week were things he said he was going to do, so there should not be any shock about it."
The perils of Twitter
Their advice: Stop tweeting.
Asked what's disappointed them about Trump so far, the response volunteered most often is the president's propensity for provocative statements, especially in the 140-character bursts on Twitter.
"I wish he would get off Twitter, because he says what's on his mind," says Cheyne Henry, 31, a business manager from Red Lion, Pa. "I do the same thing, but later you say, 'That probably wasn't the best way to word it.' He doesn't have a filter. I think people would look at him better if he would stop talking so much."
The positive of his tweets are you know what the guy's thinking. But "it can be a little brash, a little too personal, a little too simplistic, if you will. -- Ken Cornacchioone, a financial consultant from Florida
Ken Cornacchione, 65, a financial consultant from Venice, Fla., worries that Trump's rapid-fire rhetoric is fueling the nation's polarization. "The positive of his tweets are you know what the guy's thinking," he says. But "it can be a little brash, a little too personal, a little too simplistic, if you will. He needs to operate, in my opinion, on a macro-level now."
Even among these Trump partisans, their admiration for the new president is tempered by an acknowledgement of characteristics that may create unnecessary hurdles.
Several express bewilderment about why he used his first days in office to dispute the accurate observation that his inaugural crowd was smaller than that for Barack Obama in 2009 and to insist, without evidence, that Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the popular vote only because millions of fraudulent ballots had been cast.
"This thing about the election, about millions of people, he just needs to let that go," says Wayne Moore, 60, a procurement manager from Henderson, Ky. Moore says he has had some experience with election counts, losing his bid for re-election as Muhlenberg County sheriff by 25 votes. "I would tell him to his face, 'That looks childish. You just need to move on.' "
Some supporters say the president needs to pick his battles if he wants to achieve his priorities.
"He's shoving things down people's throats," worries Margie Chandler, 53, of Old Monroe, Mo., a speck of a town near the Illinois border. She likes Trump's push to repeal the Affordable Care Act and thinks he has the right intentions, but she says he would be well-advised to take a slower pace on some issues. "This whole refugee thing, he could have taken more time with it," she says.
"He is learning, maybe the hard way, that he may not be able to force himself on a lot of people the way he thought he could," agrees Ray Keener, 64, of Seminole, Texas.
Of course, Trump's no-nonsense manner and his impatience with politics-as-usual are also what they like about him.
I thought some of what he said (during the campaign) wasn't nice, but we didn't vote for him to be nice. We voted for him to get things done. -- David McDonough, 55, a plumber from Indiana
"You cannot ask Republican or Democratic leadership in either chamber of Congress a question and get a direct answer," Cornacchione complains. Take the debate over whether the Senate's Republican leader will block Democrats from using a filibuster in the Supreme Court confirmation battle. "You ask Mitch McConnell if he's going to invoke the 'nuclear option' and he does everything but say 'yes' or 'no.' That's their game. And a lot of people on both sides are fed up with that."
"I'm not going to say he should be more presidential because I voted for him just because of what he was saying he was going to do," says David McDonough, 55, a plumber from Brownsburg, Ind. During the campaign, "I thought some of what he said wasn't nice, but we didn't vote for him to be nice. We voted for him to get things done. Well, I did, anyway."
'The forgotten man'
Barney Carter, 50, now lives in scenic St. Marys, Ga., along the barrier islands on Georgia's coast. But he grew up in tiny Bassett, Va., a small town that "was all furniture factories and textiles." He says he understands why communities like his hometown helped elect Trump.
"Now it's a place of unemployment, drugs, people on entitlement and welfare," says Carter, a Navy veteran who works as an account manager for a medical-device company. He recognizes the anger and angst that Trump's populist message tapped. "The forgotten places, I know that place. The forgotten man, I know that man. But I left, but everybody can't leave; everybody doesn't want to leave.
"I don't think he has all the answers. He's not going to bring a high-paying furniture factory back. But at least he's talking about these things."
He says 'Hire American. Buy American.' I thinks he's on track. -- Steven Spence of Arizona
Trump's business background may help him achieve the sort of robust economic revival that has eluded other recent presidents, some of his supporters say. "He says 'Hire American, Buy American,'" Steven Spence, 69, of Mesa, Ariz., says approvingly. "I thinks he's on track."
"I like that he's said he's going to do what he said he would do," says Daniel Kohn, 74, of Corpus Christi, Texas. "You can tell he works from sunlight to moonlight. Hang onto your hat: We'll see what happens."
HOW’S HE DOING?
The first take by the USA TODAY Network Trump Voter Panel, a group of 25 Trump supporters from across the country.
Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president?
Thinking about your expectations when you voted for him, Trump is doing:
About as expected: 18
Better than expected: 7
Worse than expected: 0
How do you think history will judge Trump's presidency?
SOURCE: The USA TODAY Network Trump Voter Panel
(© 2017 KGW)