Why is Congress so dysfunctional

Even Donald Trump didn't really seem to be able to believe that he would really move into the White House as US President. On November 8, 2016, he had defeated the Democrat Hillary Clinton and promised that night in his victory speech that he would "unite the country" and be "one president of all Americans". The audience cheered. A year later it is clear: He has not yet achieved this goal. Trump's approval ratings are historically bad.

These numbers are all the more remarkable as the US economy continues to boom - and the popularity of presidents is often linked to the economic situation. That doesn't help Trump, it's different with him: Almost all Democrats reject him "full of conviction", while among the non-party Americans only about 30 percent support the 45th President. Both groups each comprise a third of the population. But it looks very different among those who define themselves as Republicans. A huge majority is satisfied with Trump's previous record (Fox News last determined 83 percent, NBC came to 81 percent).

Current data show that the 71-year-old behaves as a head of state only affects a minority of Americans. Trump's style is more likely to be tolerated and is clearly rejected by a majority.

The mood in Europe is even more extreme. Not only since special investigator Bob Mueller accused several Trump employees (it's about Russia's influence on the 2016 election), many have been asking themselves almost desperately: How can Americans still support Trump? There are three answers to that. Even if in the latest Washington Post- In a poll, 70 percent of US citizens describe Trump's government as dysfunctional, while 80 percent consider Congress to be incapable. Even cockroaches and athlete's foot are more popular than MPs and Senators in the United States. Here lies a key to understanding US politics in 2017: Trump may achieve little, but many of his supporters blame the Republicans in Congress: They would not give the newcomer a chance.

Second, only 59 percent "mostly" follow what happens in politics: a large number of them get different from readers of New York Times or SZ doesn't have any phrase about the White House. The third reason is that, in the perception of many Americans, Democrats and Republicans are so far apart that a "change of sides" is about as realistic as a move from the CSU to the left in this country. Trump was not ideal for many conservatives (he only got 40 percent in the primary), but he was unquestionably better than Hillary Clinton.

The five groups of the Trump coalition

On the anniversary of the Trump victory, the question "How did this happen?" debated again. For Germans in particular, it is interesting to study the almost 63 million Trump voters and their different motives. This "block" is just not homogeneous and anyone who continues to think that Trump was only elected by white, angry, racist men will understand the events on the other side of the Atlantic even less (but it must be emphasized here that the sexist and xenophobic sayings of the candidate Trump were well occupied and were tolerated, ignored or somehow rationalized by all these voters).

Extensive data on the 2016 presidential election are now available. Every four years the non-party foundation Democracy Fund surveys 8,000 Americans for the "Voter Study Group" and Emily Ekins, pollster with the libertarian think tank Cato, has divided Trump voters into five categories.

Preservers of Ancient America (20 percent)

This is where those people gather who shape the public image of Trump voters under the term "White Trash". Two thirds say that their white skin color is very important to them and 50 percent cite "European origins" as the basis for being American. A majority think it is more important to teach children to be obedient than to raise them to be self-reliant. Migrants (with or without documents) are perceived as competition: 85 percent are staunch supporters of the entry ban for Muslims.

This group is concerned about the future of their children. 88 percent are convinced that the politicians in Washington primarily help the rich, two-thirds despise the Wall Street bankers and want to redistribute wealth. These attitudes are shaped by the circumstances in which they live: Many are unemployed, do not have a good education and almost half have health insurance through the Medicaid program. So you don't want the state to do less: it should only do more for you to do. It will surprise many that one in five people voted for Obama in 2012. This explains, however, that 53 percent are demanding compromises from both parties - the image of the "dealmaker" clearly helped Trump. A majority think climate change is a man-made problem, but they simply have different priorities.

For Trump this means: The group's support is strong, they see him as someone who brings up uncomfortable topics. In their eyes, media criticism is unpatriotic. Since Obamacare was not abolished and Trump was unable to push through his savings budget, the everyday lives of these often poor people has not (yet) deteriorated. It remains unclear whether they would blame Trump - or Congress.