State of the Nation

24% of registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction. 63% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track.

Right track Wrong track
Democrats 43% 35%
Republicans 8% 87%
Independents 18% 71%

[Econ/YouGov 12/21/21]

Younger U.S. adults are less likely to see big differences between the political parties or to feel well represented by them. Below is an analysis based on how much difference they see.

A great deal A fair amount Hardly any
Total 59% 31% 9%
Ages 18-29 42 43 14
30-49 53 36 11
50-64 64 26 9
65+ 77 19 3

84% of Republicans ages 65 and older say the GOP represents the interests of people like them at least somewhat well, compared with 59% of Republicans under 30.

89% of Democrats ages 65 and older say the Democratic Party represents the interests of people like them at least somewhat well compared with 65% of Democrats 18-29 years of age

Overall, younger adults in the United States are less likely than older adults to identify with a party. [PEW 12/7/21]

54% of American adults are currently proud of the way democracy works in America while 46% are not proud. That represents a significant decline in the number of people who are proud of the way democracy works in the U.S.

In the fall of 2017, 63% were proud while 36% were not proud. And in 2002, 90% of Americans were proud while 9% were not proud. [WP/U of Maryland 12/19/21]

In December, the Gallup poll asked a representative sample of Americans whether they approve or disapprove of the way each of the following individuals is handling their job. Each person selected is a public official in the Judicial, Congressional, or Executive branch of government.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts 60%/34%
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell 53%/40%
Director of the NIAID Dr. Anthony Fauci 52%/47%
Secretary of State Antony Blinkin 49%/43%
Attorney General Merrick Garland 49%/43%
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy 46%/49%
Vice President Kamala Harris 44%/54%
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer 44%/53%
President Joe Biden 43%/51%
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi 40%/58%
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell 34%/53%

In this group of leaders, Roberts is the only one who receives majority approval from Republicans 57%, Democrats 55%, and political independents 64%. [Gallup 12/16/21]

The following are some of the Pew Research Center’s most striking research findings over the last year.

44% of non-parents ages 18-49 say it is unlikely they will ever have children.

72% of U.S. Adults (in August) said they personally know someone who has been hospitalized or died from COVID-19. This group includes 82% of Black adults and 78% of Hispanic adults.

In the 2020 presidential election, turnout rose in every state. Minnesota had the highest turnout of any state with 79.4% of estimated eligible voters casting ballots. The lowest turnout state was Oklahoma with 54.8% turnout.
80% of Asian Americans say violence against them in the United States has increased.

Only 17% of Americans believe that democracy in the United States is a good example for other countries to follow.

35% of Republicans have at least some trust in national news organizations, a drop from 70% who had that view in 2016. 78% of Democrats have some trust in national news organizations.

Women in the U.S. are more likely than men to have a four-year college degree – 39% to 37%. Among those aged 25-34, 46% of women as opposed to 36% of men are more likely to have a bachelor’s degree.

78% of Democrats as opposed to 57% of Republicans believe voting is a fundamental right.

29% of Americans are religiously unaffiliated. This is an increase from 16% who had this view in 2007.

For the first time, the number of Americans who identify as white declined between 2010 and 2020.

Only 34% of U.S. adults under the age of 30 now get TV through cable or satellite, down from 65% in 2015. There was an attendant drop of 27 percentage points among those 30 to 49 and a 14-point drop among those 50 to 64. [PEW 12/17/21]

1.4% of the more than $82 trillion in US–based assets is managed by firms owned or run by women or people of color. 98.6% of all US-based assets are managed by firms owned or run by white men. [Closing the Gap 12/16/21]

Voter confidence in the US educational system to prepare students for the future is not strong. Republicans and Independents are much less confident than Democrats in the current system.

Confident Not Confident
Republicans 45% 52%
Independents 35 54
Democrats 72 33

[Winning Issues 12/15/21]

The population of the United States on December 27, 2021 was 333,881,850 and represents 4.25% of the world’s population. It is the 3rd largest country in the world (by population). The largest country by population is China with a population of 1,439,333,775 accounting for 18.47% of the population of the world. In second place is India with a population of 1,380,104,385 accounting for 17.70% of the world population.

Of the 10 most populous U.S. states in 2021, six of them shrunk in the year between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021; four of them grew.

States that grew: Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina
States that shrunk: California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan

The following are the 10 states that have had the largest percentage growth in the year ending on July 1, 2021.

Idaho 2.9%
Utah 1.7%
Montana 1.7%
Arizona 1.4%
South Carolina 1.2%
Delaware 1.2%
Texas 1.1%
Florida 1.0%
Nevada 1.0%
South Dakota .09% [Census Bureau and other sources]

95% of American adults use the internet or email, at least occasionally. 44% use it almost constantly while another 42% use it several times a day.

Only 20% of internet users trust Facebook “a great deal or a good amount”
to responsibly handle their personal information and data on their internet activity while 72% trust it “not much or at all.”

The following are the scores for other major internet companies and services.

Trust a great deal/good amount Trust not much/not at all
Amazon 53% 40%
Apple 44 40
Google 48 47
Microsoft 43 42
YouTube 35 53
Facebook 20 72
Instagram 19 60
WhatsApp 15 53
TikTok 12 63

64% think the government should do more to regulate how internet companies handle privacy issues, while 34% think the government should not get more involved.

73% believe that email, search, and social networking companies collecting information from their users is “an unjustified use of people’s private information.” [WP/Schar school 11/4/21]

When did the various broadcast television networks, start broadcasting?

NBC – 11/15/1926
CBS – 9/18/1927
ABC – 10/12/1943
PBS – 11/3/1969
CNN – 6/1/1980
MSNBC – 7/15/1996
FOX – 10/7/1996

The following represent Americans’ main sources for news about politics and government. Each respondent in this survey was able to list multiple sources.

Outlet Percentage
Local TV 39%
CNN or 28
NBC 26
ABC or 26
Fox News or Fox 26
CBS or 23
NPR 19
Local radio 15
Facebook 14
NYT 14
Wash Post 13
Another newspaper 10
Another TV network 7
Other 21

[WP/Univ of Maryland 12/19/21]

One of the most dramatic findings of the above survey, is that 34% of Americans believe it can be justified for citizens to take violent action against the government. 62% say it is never justified.

54% of adults believe that the protesters who entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021, were mostly violent and 51% believe that the legal punishments of those people were not harsh enough. [WP/Univ of Maryland 12/19/21]

529 public officials faced recall in 2021 compared to 301 in 2020 and 233 in 2019. 25 recall elections were successful in 2021 compared to 35 in 2020 and 38 in 2019. In 2021 school board members faced more recall elections than any other office type. [Ballotpedia 1/4/22]

At the start of 2022, 41.7% of Americans (138 million) live in a state with a Republican trifecta. (Trifecta defined as having the top 3 government officials from the same political party.) 34% of Americans (113 million) live in a state with a Democratic trifecta. The remaining 24.3% of Americans (80 million) live in a state with a divided government.

There are 37 trifectas – 23 Republican and 14 Democratic – and 13 states with divided governments. In 1992, there were 19 trifectas – 3 Republican and 16 Democratic. [Ballotpedia 1/7/22]

In Memorium: Harry Mason Reid Jr.

Born December 2, 1939 – Died December 28, 2021

United States Senator 1987 – 2017
Senate Majority Leader – 2007 -2015
Senate Minority Leader – 2015 2017
Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus 2005 -2017
Senate Minority Whip – 2003 – 2005
Senate Minority Whip January to June 2001
Senate Minority Whip 1999- 2001
Senate Majority Whip 2001 – 2003
Senate Majority Whip Jan 3 – 20, 2001
Member U.S. House of Representatives 1983-1987
Chair of the Nevada Gaming Commission 1977-1981
Lieutenant Governor of Nevada 1971- 1975
Member of the Nevada Assembly 1969 – 1971

Harry Reid was the Senate Majority Leader from 2007 to 2014. Since the position’s creation in the 1920s, only two senators held the position longer: Democrats Mike Mansfield of Montana (1961-1976), and Alben W. Barkley of Kentucky (1937-1946).

“Many stories already have been written about the Democratic leader’s legacy – his legislative and political accomplishments; his colorful past as a boxer, gaming commissioner and Capitol Hill police officer; and his quirky habits – like not saying goodbye before hanging up the phone. But this portrait would be incomplete without a few words about Reid’s accomplishments as an employer – most notably his ability to create an environment that supported working parents in an institution that is better known for long, unpredictable hours and a clubby, male-centric culture.

“We were fortunate to enjoy paid time at home with our newborn babies, but as a father of five and grandfather of 19, Reid understood that a generous paid parental-leave policy was neither the starting nor the ending point for a truly family-friendly workplace.” [Previous two paragraphs from the Las Vegas Sun 12/30/21]

A personal note from Mike Berman:

The year was 1974 and I was a volunteer for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee which was chaired by Nordy Hoffman. (Hoffman, who in college was a pulling guard in front of the 4 Horsemen of Notre Dame, went on to serve as the Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate from 1975 to 1981.) Marty Franks ran the Committee. The three of us traveled the country running training sessions for Democratic candidates for the United States Senate.

We slipped into Las Vegas, Nevada and did a training session, long before the primary, with Harry Reid who was then engaged in a primary for the U.S. Senate with Maya Miller. Reid was the Lt. Governor at the time.

Miller’s campaign manager heard we had been in town and complained loudly. Subsequently, we returned to Nevada to do a duplicate session for the Miller campaign.

Reid won the primary but lost the general election to Paul Laxalt by less than 100 votes.

In that same year, 1974, the three of us did a training session for Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who was elected to the Senate in that year.

Reid was subsequently elected to the Senate in November of 1986.


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December 2021, is 3.9%. That unemployment rate is lower than the 4.2% in November and substantially less than the 6.7% unemployment rate of December 2020.

If one considers the total number of unemployed + those marginally attached to the labor force + those working part-time who want full-time work, the unemployment rate in December was 7.3% down from 7.7% in November and less than 11.7% a year earlier.

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR)in December is 61.9%, up from 61.8% in November 2021.

The Demographics of Unemployment for December 2021

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)

  • Women –3.1% (down from last month)
  • Men –3.0% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Race

  • White – 3.2% (down from last month)
  • Black – 7.1% (up from last month)
  • Hispanic – 4.9% (down from last month)
  • Asian –3.8% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)

  • Less than high school –5.2% (down from last month)
  • High School –4.6% (down from last month)
  • Some college –3.6% (down from last month)
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 2.1% (down from last month)

In November 2021, 25 states had unemployment rates below the national average of 4.2%. One state had an unemployment rate that was the same as the national average. 26 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had unemployment rates that were above the national average.

The state with the highest unemployment rate in November was Puerto Rico at 7.8%.

An estimated 4.5 million workers quit or changed in November. This follows 4.2 million people who left or changed jobs in October and 4.4 million who did the same in September. [WP/BLS 1/3/22]

The United States added 6.4 million jobs in 2021. [BLS 1/5/22]