US & Canada

Trump's America: Are voters impressed?

Ever since he glided down a golden escalator to announce his candidacy, I've been talking to voters about Donald Trump.

Around dinner tables in Arkansas and Alabama, at rallies in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and on plane journeys to New Hampshire and Nevada, I've been gauging views in more than 20 states. So how do people rate the Trump presidency so far?

We contacted 100 people who had spoken to the BBC during the primaries, campaign and beyond. Our #Trump100 focus group consisted of 50 who had voted for Mr Trump, and 50 who didn't.

Judging by the responses, there is still a huge divide in the way Americans view issues like immigration, abortion and the role of government - and those views remain deeply entrenched.

The strike on Syria was one of the few areas which didn't elicit a partisan response, with some Trump voters disagreeing with it and some Clinton voters supporting the action.

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Media captionThe divided newlyweds split over Trump's performance

Healthcare and tax reform were two policy areas mentioned the most frequently. Both issues are priorities for President Trump and are among the most challenging in his in-tray.

Overall, those who voted for Mr Trump think he's doing a fantastic job. For those who didn't, the needle has barely changed - some even want him impeached.

Here is what some of them told us about his first 100 days.


Jan Berry, 58, Arkansas

When I met Jan Berry at her home in Arkansas back in October, she had nothing good to say about Donald Trump. A lifelong Republican and a committed Christian, she felt her party's nominee was boorish and brash.

But despite her reservations, she cast a ballot for Mr Trump. "I did a lot of soul searching, and the thing that helped me make the decision had to do with Hillary Clinton's views on abortion," she says.

"I haven't really regretted my vote, even though there are lots of things Mr Trump has done that are ridiculous and embarrassing," she says.

His decision to nominate conservative justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is a reason Berry, along with many other reluctant Trump voters we spoke to, still backs him.

Highs: Appointing Gorsuch and picking non-politicians for his cabinet. "At first I wasn't sure about Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, as he was from Exxon, but I've been so impressed with him," she says.

Lows: His refusal to shake Angela Merkel's hand in the Oval Office. "I thought that was about the lowest thing he's done, in front of the whole world. It just embarrassed me."


What voters told us when we followed up with them in 2017


Voters talk to the BBC:


Ally Bross, 18, Florida

A first-time voter and student at Florida International University, Ally Bross was one of the youngest supporters of Mr Trump I met, and one of the most emphatic.

As a native of Orlando, Ally saw the Pulse nightclub shooting harden her political views. "When Trump said we're going to fix terrorism, we are going to put an end to Isis, I was all for it," she says.

But the elation she felt in November evaporated after the president's strike against a Syrian airbase.

"I feel like he's putting us in the middle of a war," she says. She is concerned that there will be more action to come against North Korea.

Ally broadly supported the travel ban, but is unhappy with the way it was rolled out. As a student at a diverse university, she saw friends struggle to get back into the country with their green cards.

"It shouldn't have been so strict. You can't just block everybody out," she says. "I don't want America to become that".

Highs: "I love that he helped Flint, Michigan after they had a crisis with their water," she said, referring to a $10m grant for Flint awarded by Trump's Environmental Protection Agency, which had been approved by President Obama.

Lows: Aside from the Syria strike, Ally is disappointed that the president failed to repeal and replace Obamacare. "I think the government needs to get their butts out of our health care".


Lori Hack, 45, Arizona

Lori Hack couldn't bring herself to vote for Donald Trump, even though she is an active member of the Republican party.

"My issue back then was that [Trump] had no record to back up what he was saying," she says.

Lori initially expressed concerns about the president's lack of experience in governing, but is coming around.

"Being a president is different to running a company," she says. "I think he's realised this is not a joke."

Lori is also impressed by his "phenomenal" choice of Neil Gorsuch and his unrelenting stance on immigration.

"He talked about sending people back across the border if they were here illegally, and he's doing that too".

Highs: President Trump's action on immigration. "It's about securing the border," Lori, who supports the border wall, says. "If you want to come in you'll have to go through the front door, the back door needs to be sealed."

Lows: "I'm disappointed he's got his daughter and son-in-law in the White House - they're Democrats and their positions are more liberal."



More from the BBC:


Sean Kehren, 22, Minnesota

Sean Kehren's tears for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic convention made him an instant social media star as the Crying Peter Pan Man.

When I met Sean then, he was sad to see Mr Sanders miss out on becoming the Democratic nominee, but ready to shift his support to Hillary Clinton.

"I didn't think we had the most charismatic candidate but her policies were things I cared about," he says.

Sean accepts that Donald Trump won the electoral college, but wonders whether it was with the help of "outside forces," namely Russia.

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Media captionCrying Bernie Sanders fan explains why

Sean is now working full time as a political organiser, and has his eyes on the 2018 mid-term elections.

"Democrats need to keep up the pressure at town halls and have our voices heard."

Highs: Sean struggles to list any accomplishments, but does feel that son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka are "steadier hands" in the White House, even if they lack experience.

Lows: Hiring right-wing advisers like Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka. "They've all studied how, when populations get into a reactionary mood, how you can really change a country."



James Montfort III, 60, Virginia

I met James while he was volunteering for the Trump campaign in Virginia. Despite pollsters saying otherwise, he never doubted Mr Trump would win.

"I have never been so elated in my entire life," he says. "I thank God, the saviour."

James, a former banker, is pleased with President Trump's first few months in the White House. He believes his meetings with everyone from the President of China to the Congressional Black Caucus show a willingness to be open and transparent.

James is less concerned about how transparent the president's taxes are. "The IRS already scrutinised his tax returns. If there was anything bad in them they would have caught them," he says.

Highs: James supports the president's regular trips to Florida. "I think Mar-A-Lago is a beautiful and wonderful place to bring foreign dignitaries."

Lows: The roll out of the travel ban - a common complaint from Trump supporters. "It had hiccups," he says. "I blame his advisers."


Beth Howard, 54, Iowa

Beth Howard lives in rural Iowa, and bakes pies so delicious, she's made them her living.

I got to sample her pastry prowess in January 2016, ahead of the Iowa caucus. She hosted a discussion around her kitchen table with both Republicans and Democrats.

Beth was a passionate Hillary Clinton supporter, and like many Democrats in our #Trump100 panel, she struggles to find any positives in the Trump presidency.

"I'm a lot more pessimistic than I was before."

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Media captionCan Iowa voters talk about their differences over pie?

Along with tens of thousands of other women, Beth travelled to Washington DC to take part in the Women's March in January. It was the first time she participated in a political protest.

Since the election she has also started baking what she describes as "protest pies" and volunteering with refugee and immigration assistance groups in Iowa, to help those she believes have been adversely affected by the president's policies.

Those who support Mr Trump's agenda so far "care more about money than people," she says.

Beth was also unhappy that the president has brought his family members to work in the White House, "These people aren't qualified to run our country," she says.

Highs: She was unable to think of anything.

Lows: She feels Mr Trump has destroyed America's reputation in the world. "It's just this American cowboy mentality and arrogance that upsets me the most."




Marco Gutierrez, 43, California

As the founder of Latinos for Trump, Marco Gutierrez faced criticism from friends and family, but he remains a firm supporter of Donald Trump.

While many #Trump100 voters we've spoken to have concerns about the president's Tweets, Marco believes some of his more controversial online tirades, like unfounded accusations President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, were borne out of vigilance.

"I think he was seeing all these leaks being reported, and wanted to see how far it went," he says. "He was testing the market, like a businessman,"

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Media captionMany Trump voters are happy with his progress

Marco supports the president's immigration policies, but believes there is room for improvement when it comes to the way deportations are handled.

"You have innocent people who are caught in the crossfire - [Mr Trump] needs to be compassionate because I think eventually some supporters will break."

Marco says he will stay loyal to the president, but is concerned by a small hardcore element of the president's supporters he describes as "borderline racist".

Highs: "The way they launched the missiles while he was having dinner with the Chinese president, is something I admire a lot," Marco says. "He is showing fortitude."

Lows: "I'm not very happy with his son-in-law, I think that there it is not an arms-length relationship, and that could be a conflict of interest."


Jim Mather, 57, Alabama

Jim Mather is a pastor who works with international students at the University of Southern Alabama.

It was around Jim's kitchen table in March 2016 that I discussed immigration policy with Mohammed, a Syrian refugee, and Steve Weller, a Trump supporter.

A Republican, Jim felt let down by a party "overtaken by populism and nationalism," and voted instead for independent candidate Evan McMullin. Jim says the president's policies on refugees are "belligerent and backwards".

Many foreign students are living in fear, he says, noting that there's been a drop in overseas enrolments to the university.

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Media captionAn unlikely brunch: A Donald Trump supporter, a Muslim refugee from Syria and an Alabama pastor trying to bridge the divide

"Mr Trump seems to be making decisions that aren't based on reality. The international population and diversity in our country is a great source of wealth and culture to the United States.

Jim supported the air strike against Syria, but remains concerned that without a wider strategy, the action could be seen as a stunt.

"It's more of a revelation of the character of Donald Trump," he says. "One week Assad should stay in power, and the next week he bombs him."

Highs: The Gorsuch nomination. For many evangelical Christians this was the singular reason they voted for Mr Trump.

Lows: Mr Trump's tone and demeanour to the rest of the world: "Here's a man who is 70 years old, tweeting personal vendetta and snide remark ad nauseam. It's less than presidential."


I'll be tweeting more observations from our #Trump100 focus group throughout the week. You can follow me - and let me know what you think - at @BBCRajiniv.

Additional research and reporting by Katie Shepherd

Americans, what do you think of your president's first 100 days? Tell us your own highs and lows.

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