State of the Nation

* Any statements in this issue of the Watch which are not sourced are mine and identified by “WW”.

Note: I have no record as to when the first issue of the Washington Watch was published. It was then called the Kirkpatrick and Lockhart’s Washington Watch, named after the law firm of which I was a part at the time. For some reason, I retained a copy of issue #4. It was published on July 27, 1987.

Beginning in 1998, WW began writing about restaurants. These are not typical restaurant reviews because they describe the food eaten but do not comment on the quality of the food. But if the food is not good, the restaurant is not reviewed. And whenever possible they include a review of the restrooms.

Through this current issue, #200, 407 restaurants will have been reviewed in 57 cities (plus 1 airport and 1 railway station), 21 states, and 7 countries.

State of the Nation

27% of registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction. 62% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track.

  Right track Wrong track
Male 30% 60%
Female 22% 63%
Democrats 50% 37%
Republicans 10% 86%
Independents 18% 71%
Urban 37% 52%
Suburban 22% 62%
Rural 19% 71%

[Econ/YouGov 5/3/22]

16% of registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction. 75% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track. [NBCNews survey, 5/10/22]

The length of time that it took for the current Supreme Court Justices and Ketanji Brown Jackson (who will be seated after the court adjourns for the year) to be confirmed, from the day they were nominated by the president to the day they were confirmed by the U.S. Senate, ranged from 99 days to 27 days. We have no data on the number of hours of questioning for Kagan and Sotomayor.

  Nomination to Confirmation Hours spent being questioned during Senate Judiciary hearing
Clarence Thomas 99 days 25 hours
Brett Kavanaugh 88 days 48 hours
Elena Kagan 87 days —–
Samuel Alito 82 days 18 hours
Stephen Breyer 73 days 20 hours
Sonia Sotomayor 66 days —-
Neil Gorsuch 65 days 20 hours
John Roberts 39 days 20 hours
Ketanji Jackson 39 days 22 hours
Amy Coney Barrett 27 days 20 hours

[ 4/8/22]

Americans cumulatively owe about $1.75 trillion in student loans. Federal loans account for 93% of that total. In 2010 Americans overwhelmingly (65%) believed that parents and students should pay for college. However, starting in 2015 the public was evenly divided at 50%. Over time, a greater percentage of Americans have supported a greater role for government. [Brookings 4/14/22]

In 2019 the murder rate in the United States was 5 murders per 100,000 people. By 2021 that number has grown to an estimated 6.9 murders per 100,000 people. [NYT 4/17/22]

33% of American kids living in lower income households do not have access to a family computer as compared to only 6% of those living in high income families.

Additionally, 40% of American kids living in lower income households do not have access to a tablet as opposed to 19% of kids living in high income households. (Lower income <$35,000; Higher income > $100,000.) [Statista 4/14/22]

Drug overdose deaths in the United States reached the highest point ever recorded in the year ending in November 2021 – 106, 850 deaths. Deaths are up nearly 50% per year since the start of the Covid pandemic. [NYT 4/24/22]

629,898 abortions in 2019 in the United States were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [CDC 11/26/21]

Medication abortions rose to more than 54% of U.S. abortions in 2020. [WP 5/5/22]

By 51% to 31%, Americans do not want Roe v Wade overturned. [Yahoo/YouGov 5/6/22]

In 1995, 60% of us said abortion should be legal in all/most cases while 38% said abortion should be illegal in all/most cases. Today those numbers are about the same 60 to 61% and 38 to 37%.

Among those who say abortion should be legal in all/most cases

Dem Lean Dem Lean Rep
2007 63% 39%
2022 80% 38%

[PEW 3/13/22]

In the most recent NBC News poll (5/10/22) Americans think abortions should be:

Always legal 37%
Legal most of the time 23%
Illegal with exceptions 32%
Illegal without any exceptions 5%
Not sure 3%

65% favor allowing same-sex marriages

20% oppose allowing same-sex marriages

Between 2019 and 2020, the firearm homicide rate increased about 35%. In 2020, counties with the highest poverty level had firearm homicide rates 4.5 times as high and firearm suicide rates 1.3 times as high as counties with the lowest poverty levels. [CDC 5/11/22]

In the year 2022, babies of color and babies in families with low income are more likely to have experiences that produce chronic stress. In the United States 50.7% of babies are children of color; 18.6% of babies live in poverty. [Zero to Three 5/3/22]

A majority of Americans favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder. [NYT 4/16/22]

Which political party, Democrat or Republican, do you trust to do a better job handling the following issues?

  Democrats Republicans
The economy 36% 50%
Equal treatment of racial and ethnic groups 51% 31%
Crime 35% 47%
Education and schools 47% 39%
Equal treatment of groups regardless of sexual orientation or
gender identity
55% 36%
Immigration 40% 43%
Inflation 31% 50%

[ABC/WP 4/28/22]

More than 55% of Americans think the United States should do more in support of Ukraine. 76% favor more humanitarian support; 67% favor increasing economic sanctions; 55% favor more military support. On the other hand, 72% oppose direct military action. [ABC/WP 4/28/22]

About Walter F. Mondale

On May 1, 2022, there was a (much delayed) memorial service for Walter F. Mondale in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Among the speakers was Jon Meacham a prominent historian and presidential biographer. The following is an excerpt from his remarks.

One of Mondale’s favorite verses of scripture tells us much. “I have fought the good fight,” St. Paul wrote. “I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”

The first part of that chapter from Paul is quoted less often but is worth remembering. “Preach the word,” the apostle wrote, “be prepared in season and out of season.”

In season and out of season – justice knows no season. Truth knows no season. Freedom knows no season. Fairness knows no season.

Walter Mondale knew that. He lived according to that. And today we salute him for that.

There are children in America today who will not go hungry because of Fritz Mondale. There are black people in America today who can vote, and work and live more freely and fairly because of Fritz Mondale. There are women in America today who see no limit to their dreams because of Fritz Mondale. There are safer cars in America today, rivers of clean water in America today, enclaves of untouched wildlife in America today because of Fritz Mondale.

He never stopped believing in this country. He never stopped fighting for its people. And he never stopped defending democracy.

He never stopped. Nor, in his memory, should we.


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April 2022 is 3.6%. That unemployment rate is the same as the 3.6% rate of March 2022 and substantially less than the 6.0% unemployment rate of April 2021.

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 April was 7.0% down from 6.9% in March and less than 10.3% a year earlier.

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in April is 62.2%, down from 62.4% in March 2022.

The Demographics of Unemployment for April 2022

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)

  • Women –2.8% (same as last month)
  • Men –3.1% (same as last month)

Unemployment by Race

  • White – 3.2% (same as last month)
  • Black –5.9% (down from last month)
  • Hispanic – 4.1% (down from last month)
  • Asian –3.1% (up last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)

  • Less than high school –5.4% (up from last month)
  • High School –3.8% (down from last month)
  • Some college –3.1% (up from last month)
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 2.0% (same as last month)

In March 2022, 25 states had unemployment rates below the national average of 3.6%. 25 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had unemployment rates that were above the national average. 2 states, Maine and Missouri, had unemployment rates that were the same as the national average.

The state/territory with the highest unemployment rate in February was Puerto Rico at 6.8%.