'He's bringing God back': Donald Trump supporters celebrate first 100 days
"So far, so good," says Dave Carl, standing on the concrete floor of the New Holland Arena in Harrisburg, US, surrounded by thousands of fellow fans of US President Donald Trump. In his hand was a Trump sign that read: "Promises made, promises kept".
The 59-year-old military veteran and correctional officer, along with his wife Ruth, seemingly couldn't be happier with how the commander-in-chief's first 100 days in office have gone.
"Rolling back a lot of those regulations that were stopping the oil and coal exploration. [Protecting] the unborn," Carl says, counting off what he sees as Trump's biggest achievements so far. "And he's draining the swamp pretty good."
"All he's gotten done is amazing," his wife says. "I think he is going to make America great again.
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"And he's bringing God back. I praise the Lord for that, I really do."
As Donald Trump marked his 100th day in the White House on Saturday [Sunday NZ Time], the American public's dissatisfaction with its new president reached unprecedented levels for the modern era. Gallup put his approval rating at just 41 per cent, a figure 14 points behind the president with the next lowest rating.
But Trump's unpopularity is largely driven by the deep disapproval of Democrats and, to a lesser extent, independents. In the eyes of those who voted for him, Trump's first 100 days have been a shining success.
Almost 90 per per cent of Republicans approve of the job he's doing, according to Gallup, making him more popular than Ronald Reagan or George Bush snr were with their party faithful at the same point in their terms.
In Trump, his supporters still see someone who is authentic. They gave him a rapturous welcome at Saturday night's ebullient campaign-style rally. Many had waited half the day standing in line in the muggy northern spring heat.
When he walked in, to the strains of Proud to be an American, they were on their feet. They booed and yelled as he tore into the "fake news" media or railed against the dangers of undocumented immigrants, and cheered as he pledged to make America great again.
"I think he's done amazing, more than I've ever seen in my lifetime," said Paula Damiano, who was at Saturday night's rally with her brothers.
Her only disappointment was that he seemed to be tweeting less lately.
"He doesn't put himself on a pedestal," she said. "He's a regular guy like we are, a hardworking American."
Even the major setbacks in his agenda, such as two iterations of his travel ban targeting people from Muslim-majority countries being struck down by the courts, the unsuccessful attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare and the lack of funding for the border wall with Mexico, do not seem to perturb his supporters.
"What I've taken from this is that his supporters have made an emotional connection with him, and they're willing to give him a lot of rope," Larry Sabato, the director of the Centre for Politics at the University of Virginia, said. "They're going to let this play out."
Indeed, none of the Trump fans at Saturday's rally laid the blame for any setbacks with the president - saying they were the fault of the US Congress, or the courts, or just the complexity of the issues themselves. All were confident the wall would still be built.
"It's important," Damiano said of the wall, "but they have already put enough fear into immigrants, people coming into the United States, so that's stopped or it's really far down," she said, referencing the decreasing numbers of people crossing the southern border this year.
Another rally-goer, Frank Collins, said he didn't mind if the wall was even somewhat "symbolic" in the end, perhaps not covering the entire border as originally promised.
"There's parts of the desert out there that people die just trying to walk through. It would make sense not to waste the money there, but put in someplace else," he said.
Collins, 73, believed the president had more than enough time on his side to deal with any problems: "Give it time. It's not even been a hockey season yet!"
Recent focus groups conducted by Professor Sabato and his colleagues revealed two-thirds of Trump supporters felt the economy was already improving under the new president. The groups were surveyed prior to Friday's quarterly economic figures showing growth had hit a three-year low.
His plans to drop the corporate tax rate to 15 per cent, part of a tax plan hurried out before the 100-day mark this week, was a hit at Saturday's rally.
"That's the most important thing," said Ray, an accountant from Altoona. "Once that's done, corporations will be flocking to get here, jobs will follow, and then the rest will be history."
In a sign of the deep admiration they have for him, when asked in the focus groups to name an animal that best described the President, his supporters overwhelmingly chose a lion: "King of the Jungle", "assertive" and "unafraid" were some of the descriptors they used.
Among his opponents, it was a different beast - they chose a snake ("slimy" and "mean"), or a bull ("a bully" and "stubborn").
Outside the rally, Jill Work, a teacher and librarian from New Jersey, stood in silent protest with a cardboard sign saying "Hate will not make us great".
Amid jubilation, she was despairing: "He accomplished nothing but making noise and patting himself on the back. He has not reached across the aisle like he said he was going to do.
"I can't believe they're getting away with this, and that people are supporting him who are going to be hurt by him," she said, gesturing at the long queue to get into the arena.
Intense polarisation was evident across the US and was unlikely to change any time soon, Professor Sabato said.
"The lines are drawn, and the lines are really like - to use a Trump phrase - a big, tall wall. This is not permeable," he said.
"I don't think we're going to see a lot of movement one way or the other for quite some time to come."
- Sydney Morning Herald