An ovation.

That’s what Republican senators offered Donald Trump at the end of October when he met them at the U.S. Capitol.

This warm welcome was remarkable, in part because Trump had just experienced a real, well-deserved, volley of blows from one of these senators: Bob Corker of Tennessee.

According to this respected politician, chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Trump is an incompetent man who is likely to put the United States “on the path to World War III.”

Bob Corker is not the only Republican senator to have criticized the president in recent weeks. John McCain and Jeff Flake, two senators from Arizona, have also exchanged fire with Trump.

It’s important to clarify, however, that these are the exceptions that prove the rule. The Republican members of Congress who dare to cross the president are rare. Very rare.

It’s tragic. But it’s understandable.

New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks explained why Trump received treatment worthy of a rock star during his Senate visit. “The Republican senators greeted Trump on Capitol Hill and saw a president so repetitive and rambling, some thought he might be suffering from early Alzheimer’s. But they know which way the wind is blowing,” he wrote.

Among Republican voters, Trump still has wind in his sails. His ideas, as aberrant as they are, continue to please.

Moreover, it’s no coincidence that two of the three senators who leveled the harshest criticism at him in recent weeks, Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, announced their retirement from political life. They can pour their hearts out. They have nothing to lose.

Trump promised to “make America great again.” In the past 12 months, he has instead proven that he is not the man for the job. His amateurism is as obvious as his narcissism. His populism is as shameless as his demagogy. And what about his contempt for democracy, for the rule of law, and for the truth?

He could have avoided a little discomfort and stopped spreading insults left and right. He could have avoided comments that flirted with racism. He has done neither.

All of this has had an impact on his popularity, of course. Most recent polls show that his approval rating is somewhere below 40 percent.

But if Trump has weakened, he is far from defeated, mostly because many Republican voters remain loyal to him. In poll after poll, a large majority of them say that they are satisfied with their president. And they now have several media platforms – Fox News in particular – that tout his merits and continue to demonize ... Hillary Clinton. They also keep informed through social media, primarily Facebook, which confirms their opinions.

It is thus wise to question polls that take the pulse of the entire U.S. population. They reveal only part of the truth. One year after Trump’s election, tens of millions of Americans still believe in him. They aren’t budging. It’s at once disturbing and demoralizing.