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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

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

Kids’ screen time up 50% during pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When the coronavirus lockdowns started in March, kidstech firm SuperAwesome found that screen time was up 50%. Nearly a year later, that percentage hasn't budged, according to new figures from the firm.

Why it matters: For most parents, pre-pandemic expectations around screen time are no longer realistic. The concern now has shifted from the number of hours in front of screens to the quality of screen time.