Such optimism about what the early voter feedback may presage is dimmed by the reality that Democratic lawmakers return to work this week in a state of near impotence in the immediate term.
More of Mr. Trump’s cabinet nominees will soon clear the Senate. More Obama administration policies will be tossed out. When the president addresses a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Democrats will find almost nothing to cheer. (Some have busied themselves weighing the merits of shaking the president’s hand.)
At the same time, the protests have left Republicans with a more urgent challenge as they seek to demonstrate the fruits of one-party control in the White House and on Capitol Hill: determining whether the fury directed at lawmakers is more than anecdotal, and how to react accordingly.
Around every corner, it seemed, the resistance lurked last week, searching for a fresh target.
Constituents swarmed safe Republican turf — in Tennessee and Iowa, Georgia and Montana — even packing a coffee shop in Fargo to heckle a North Dakota congressman who recently won re-election by 45 points.
One woman in Kentucky achieved a special kind of catharsis: shouting at Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, over health coverage for coal miners, among other issues. “I hope you feel better now,” Mr. McConnell said, smirking. The woman said she did.
Perhaps most significant, Republicans have begun to acknowledge the depth of public concern about efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, a shift that could affect the prospects of their long-promised repeal. At a raucous town hall, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a fierce…