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Here's how badly the country has fractured over President Trump: He has a near-universal approval among Republicans, while three in four Democrats want him impeached. But it's not like the last few presidents united the country, either.

The back story: It wasn't always this way. Republican Dwight Eisenhower had 49% approval from Democrats during his presidency, as did John F. Kennedy from Republicans. Now, that kind of support for a president from the other party has practically disappeared: Barack Obama had 14% approval from Republicans, and 7% of Democrats approve of Trump.

Expand chart
Data: Pew Research Center, Gallup. Reproduced from a Pew Research Center report; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

What's behind the trend:

  1. Parties are a lot more ideological, and therefore polarized, than they used to be. Research from the Brookings Institution finds that the gap between average ideological scores for Democrats and Republicans in Congress has grown progressively wider since 1953.
  2. The rise of tribalism made the partisan divide less about policy and more about culture. This accelerated under Ronald Reagan, and then took off with cable news in the late 1990s and then digital news a decade later. Those platforms gave Americans ecosystems to have views reinforced and opposing ones pilloried, breeding a non-stop us vs. them feedback loop.
  3. Trump has been an exceptional force for polarization, seeking out cultural flashpoints and making criticism of the other side part of the daily routine.
“For almost all of American history, even presidents with strong views have realized that part of their job was to try to unite the country. Starting with Donald Trump’s inaugural address, he suggests an opposite point of view — that uniting the country is not part of his job, and that he thinks a president becomes more powerful if he divides.”
— Presidential historian Michael Beschloss to Axios

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

The bomb cyclone and atmospheric river seen via satellite on Sunday. The center of the storm is at the middle of the comma shape, due west of Washington State. (CIRA/RAMMB)

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (left) and Sen. Joe Manchin at the U.S. Capitol in 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.