Here’s what we can say for sure: It’s unprecedented for a president to face so much opposition from the electorate so soon. Recent polls show that anywhere between 43 and 56 percent of Americans disapprove of President Trump’s job performance. Even if you take the low end of that range, Trump’s numbers are much worse than any past president a month into his term.1
On Feb. 1, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Maine Sen. Susan Collins gave back-to-back speeches on the Senate floor stating their intention to vote against the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. This was a big deal: If one more Republican came out against Trump’s nominee, DeVos would be voted down, unless a Democrat also broke ranks. That’s when the faxes really started to pour into Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey’s Washington office. He’d already been averaging a few hundred a day ever since President Trump was inaugurated; that afternoon, the number shot up to more than 300 an hour.
Welcome to TrumpBeat, FiveThirtyEight’s weekly feature looking at how developments in Washington affect people in the real world. Want to get TrumpBeat in your inbox each week? Sign up for our newsletter. Comments, criticism or suggestions for future columns? Email us or drop a note in the comments.
Election junkies need not wait until November 2018 to get their next fix. They don’t even need to wait for the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia later this year. Five special elections for the House of Representatives are expected to take place over the next few months: California’s 34th congressional district, Georgia 6, Kansas 4, Montana At-large and South Carolina 5. These elections are “special” in the sense that they occur outside the normal two-year November House election cycle — to fill a vacant seat. But other than that, there’s nothing all that special about special elections, making them a decent thermometer reading on the country’s political mood and how voters are responding to President Trump.7
In this week’s politics chat, we look back on the first month of President Trump’s tenure and talk about what we were most surprised by. The transcript below has been lightly edited.