Don Gonyea

In Licking County, Ohio, east of the capital city of Columbus, bumper stickers on pickup trucks make it clear it is Trump Country.

And at a recent meeting of the county's Republican women's group, 66-year-old retiree Geraldine Jacobs made it clear that she's a Trump supporter.

"It's a shame that we went from the best president to now really the worst president," she says.

If President Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan is going to become a reality, it will very likely need the vote of every Democrat in the evenly divided Senate.

That simple fact puts a bright spotlight on West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who represents a deep-red Republican state — a place that Donald Trump carried in the past two elections by some 40 percentage points.

The suburbs used to belong to the Republican Party. But those days are gone.

Driven by demographic change and increasing diversity, the political leanings of the suburbs have shifted. In many areas, those shifts accelerated in recent years, because a large number of suburban voters disliked former President Donald Trump. On top of that, a lot of them are turned off by a GOP that has fully embraced Trump-style populism and grievance, and an eagerness to put culture wars front and center.

In mid-February — barely a month into his term — President Biden gathered 10 union leaders in the Oval Office. The meeting lasted two hours.

"Every once in a while as president you get to invite close friends into the Oval," Biden said, laughing. He added: "These are the folks that brung me to the dance."

No one expected him to ride quietly into the sunset. But when Donald J. Trump vacated the White House — freshly impeached for a second time, and still insisting on the lie that the election was stolen from him by massive voter fraud — it was an open question as to how much influence he would still wield within the GOP.

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