State of the Nation

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

22% of registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction. 67% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track.

  Right track Wrong track
Male 24% 64%
Female 19% 68%
Democrats 38% 46%
Republicans 8% 89%
Independents 18% 71%
Urban 33% 53%
Suburban 18% 70%
Rural 14% 74%

Roe v Wade Overturned

The Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion, a momentous break from a half-century of rulings on one of the nation’s most contentious issues. About half the states have already indicated they would move to ban the procedure.

The court ruled 6-3 to uphold a Mississippi abortion ban being challenged in the case and 5-4 to overturn Roe. In the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the court’s decision in Roe “sparked a national controversy that has embittered our political culture for a half century.”

Legal scholars said the decision to overrule Roe is one of the few times the Supreme Court has ever invalidated an earlier decision that declared a constitutional right — and the only time it took away a right that had considerable public support.

The ruling came in a dispute over a 2018 law passed by Mississippi’s Republican-controlled Legislature that banned abortions after 15 weeks. The law, which made exceptions for medical emergencies or cases of severe fetal abnormality but not for rape or incest, was immediately challenged and put on hold by lower courts.

The law constituted a direct attack on the court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision as well as a follow-on ruling in 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, under which states could impose some restrictions on abortion before viability, provided they did not constitute an “undue burden” on the right of access to the procedure. But flat-out bans before viability, generally considered to be about 24 weeks into a pregnancy, were deemed to be unconstitutional.

Those rulings are no longer the law of the land, in part because of the court’s changed composition. Two members of the court who joined in its earlier abortion decisions, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Anthony Kennedy, were succeeded by justices appointed by then-President Donald Trump: Amy Coney-Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh. Trump had declared that he would put “pro-life justices on the court.”

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito wrote in the opinion, which was backed by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch (also appointed by Trump), Kavanaugh, and Barrett. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” he wrote, calling the original Roe decision “egregiously wrong and deeply damaging.” [NBC 6/24/22]

This action by the Supreme Court is likely to lead to abortion bans in 26 states. [AP News]

Inflation has changed many things including the price of a hamburger. The following is the year-over-year (April 2021 – April 2022) change in the price of selected ingredients of a hamburger.

Roll +10.1%; Lettuce +12.7%; Tomato +0.4%; Bacon +17.7%; Ground Beef +14.8%; Sauce condiments +9.2%. [Statista 5/19/22] (Thanks to Jay Berman)

The federal budget deficit shrank by $350 billion during President Biden’s first year in office and is expected to fall more than $1 trillion by October, the end of this year’s federal budget year. [NYT 5/21/22]

Axios and the Harris Poll gauge the reputation of the 100 most visible brands in America. The following are the #1 – #10 and #96 – #100 entries in the 2022 report.

1. Trader Joe’s; 2. HEB Grocery; 3. Patagonia; 4. The Hershey Company; 5. Wegmans; 6. Samsung; 7.; 8. Toyota; 9. Honda Motor Company; 10. Sony.

96. Fox Corporation; 97. Facebook; 98. Twitter; 99.; 100. Trump Organization. [Axios 5/24/22]

States in the South and Midwest of the country are exercising increased book censorship. Leading the list is the state of Texas in which 713 titles in Texas schools and libraries were removed between July 2021 and April 2022. Among those banned are stories that carry a political message as well as a high number of books that include LGBTQI+ content. The list below shows the states that have implemented the highest number of book bans this year:

Texas – 713; Pennsylvania – 456; Florida – 204; Oklahoma – 43; Kansas – 30; Indiana – 18; Tennessee – 16; Virginia – 16; Missouri – 15; Georgia – 13. [Statista]

Tracking Trust in U.S. Institutions

Shares of U.S. adults who report have “some” or “a lot of” trust in the following institutions.

Adults Dems Republican Independent
Government 39% 53% 33%
Congress 33 42 31 24%
Supreme Court 46 43 61 38
Electoral Process 44 50 39
State Government 51 59 53
Local Government 56 61 60
Baby Boomers Gen X Millennial Gen Z
Government 44% 35% 39% 32%
Congress 32 31 35 31
Supreme Court 54 52 42 33
Electoral Process 53 43 39 30
State government 61 46 49 38
Local government 69 50 49 45

[Morning Consult 6/9/22]

Big cities saw population declines during the pandemic.

Between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021, the population has dropped in seven of the nine largest cities in the United States.

City Population Drop in population
New York 8,500,000 3.50%
Los Angeles 3,800.00 1.5
Chicago 2,700,000 1.6
Houston 2,300,000 0.5
Philadelphia 1,600,000 1.5
San Diego 1,400,000 0.3
Dallas 1,300,000 1.1

The population has grown in two of the nine largest cities.

City Population Rise in population
Phoenix 1,600,000 0.8
San Antonio 1,500,000 0.9

San Francisco, population 846,000, experienced the highest percentage population loss of the 15 largest cities in America, 55,000 people, 6.5% of its 2020 level. [Axios 5/26/22]

In June of this year, 29% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they trust the government just about always/most of the time. This compares to 9% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who say the same thing. [Pew Research 6/8/22]


The U.S. Supreme Court declared it a constitutional right to carry a weapon in public for self-defense purposes, overturning a 108-year-old New York Law requiring people to show they have “proper cause” to carry a concealed weapon. The ruling will have major implications for gun control laws in the U.S. [Axios 6/23/22]

On June 25th President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The Act contains the following provisions:

• Enhanced background checks for younger buyers
• Incentives for states to implement red flag laws
• Closing the ‘boyfriend loophole’
• Funding for mental health and school safety
• Tougher penalties on illegal purchases

The leading cause of death among American children is now guns. As of 2020, 5.3 deaths per 100,000 children were caused by guns while 4.9 deaths per 100,000 children were caused by motor vehicle accidents.

Following are the 10 states with the highest number of deaths per 100,000 children in 2020.

Louisiana – 12.9; Alaska – 12; Mississippi – 10.9; South Carolina – 9.9;
Arkansas – 9.8; Kansas – 8.9; Indiana – 8.7; Kentucky – 8.6; Missouri – 8.5; Alabama – 7.8.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates that there are more than 20 million AR-15-style guns circulating in the United States. [NYT 5/29/22]

In October 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott expressed “embarrassment” that Texas was #2, behind California for new gun purchases. [Texas Public Radio 10/29/15]

The following is based on Pew Research Center analysis of data from the CDC, the FBI, and other sources. (It is likely that the figures understate the true numbers. WW)

Suicides account for 54% of gun deaths in 2020 while 43% of gun deaths were caused by murder.

45,222 total gun deaths in 2020 were the most on record. This was a 14% increase from the year before, a 25% increase from five years earlier, and a 43% increase from a decade earlier.

Four-in-ten U.S. adults say they live in a household with a gun. 30% say they personally own a gun. 11% don’t own a gun but live in a household in which someone does

48% of Americans say that gun violence is a very big problem in the country today and an additional 24% say it is a moderately big problem.

82% of black Democrats along with 58% of Hispanic Democrats and 39% of White democrats say that gun violence is a very big problem.

73% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say that gun violence is a big problem, a view that is held by only 18% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

53% of Americans favor stricter gun laws (April 2021 survey) a number that has fluctuated. It remains the case that there is a large difference between the views of Democrats and Republicans.

34% say that if more people owned guns there would be more crime. 34% say there would be no difference in the amount of crime while 31% say there would be less crime.

49% say there would be fewer mass shootings if it was harder for people to obtain guns legally, 42% say it would not make any difference while 9% say there would be more mass shootings. [PEW Research 4/11/21-6/27/21]

68% of all voters now support stricter gun control laws while 27% oppose stricter laws. From mid-May to the first week of June, the number of supporters has grown while the number of oppose has dropped.

90% of Democrats support stricter laws while 7% oppose.
67% of Independents support stricter laws while 23% oppose
44% of Republicans support stricter laws while 51% oppose.
[Morning Consult 6/12/22]

55% of U.S. adults say they live within an hour’s drive at of at least some of their extended family members. 28% say they live near most of their extended family while 27% say they live near some of their extended family.

Americans in rural communities are most likely to live near extended family as are those living in the northeast or Midwest.

63% of adults with a high school diploma or less are likely to have at least some extended family members within an hour’s drive while that is true of only 42% of those with postgraduate degrees. [PEW 5/18/22]

59% of Americans believe that sometimes laws are needed to protect folks from themselves. 39% say it is not the government’s job to protect people from themselves.

61% of Republicans say, it’s not the government’s job to protect people from themselves. But 77% of Democrats say laws are sometimes needed for that purpose.

By 52% to 39% adults have greater confidence in career employees at federal agencies then those officials appointed by the president to oversee agencies.

65% of adults, including nearly identical share in both parties, say that most people who seek office at the local, state, or federal level do so to serve their own personal interests. By contrast, just 21% say that all or most people who run for office do so in order to serve their communities. [PEW 6/6/22]

Title IX

The historical impact of Title IX extends far beyond the reaches of sports. The landmark legislation, which prohibited sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools and education programs, was passed 50 years ago on June 23, 1972. It coincided with enormous growth in educational attainment for American women and has been applied toward reducing sexual violence on campus and promoting transgender rights in recent years. But athletics have been at the center of Title IX from the very beginning. Title IX challenged the long-standing notion that sports belonged to men — and men only. And its effects were felt both in the short term and over the half-century that has followed.

In 1971, the year before Title IX’s passage, fewer than 300,000 girls participated in sports at the high school level in the U.S., according to data from the National Federation of State High School Associations. That number represented just 8 percent of the boys participating in sports at that time. In the 1966-67 sports season, around 15,000 women participated in college sports at NCAA institutions (including recreational sports), or about 10 percent of the participation number for men. While college enrollment also skewed male in that era — men represented 59 percent of total postsecondary fall enrollment in 1970 — it was clear that women were severely underrepresented in the athletic ranks prior to Title IX’s passage.

That started to change quickly after Title IX went into effect. Participation in
girls’ high school sports rose by 178 percent (from under 300,000 to more than 800,000) in the first year of Title IX, and by an annual average of 101 percent year-over-year for the first six years the law was in place. It should be noted, though, that boys’ participation also increased over the span, albeit by a smaller degree. By the end of Title IX’s first decade, total girls’ participation was 53.1 percent that of boys — a major improvement over the 8 percent figure in 1971,
though not nearly at a level of true gender parity.

[538 Newsletter 6/1/22]

Of those who have heard about Title IX:

63% of adults say it has had a positive impact on gender equality in the U.S.

  • 62% of men
  • 64% of women
  • 75% of Democrats/leaner
  • 49% of Republicans/leaners

37% of adults say title IX has not gone far enough

  • 29% of men
  • 46% of women
  • 51% of Democrats/leaners
  • 19% Republicans/leaners

[PEW 4/21/22] [Thanks to Jay Berman]

55% of Americans support requiring colleges, universities to provide an equal number of athletic scholarships to men and women 11% oppose that.

54% of Americans say that colleges and universities have not gone far enough to give female college athletes equal opportunities. Only 8% say they have gone too far.

39% of Americans have heard ‘nothing at all about Title IX” and an additional 28% have heard ‘not much’. [WP/UMD 5/17/22]

The following is an edited version of an article from NCAA News, provided to WW by Jay Berman (not a relative but a special friend).

A look back at how Senator Birch Bayh helped the landmark legislation get its start 50 years ago …

Thirty-seven words have sustained a legacy over the past 50 years.

When U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh authored the words: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance,” Title IX came into being.

Bayh, a Democrat representing Indiana, was hopeful the federal legislation would have an impact, but even he couldn’t foresee what was to come.

Bayh, who died in 2019 at the age of 91, was able to witness the impact of his work. So much so, that out of all the political accomplishments he had in his career, Title IX was the legislation he was most proud of.

“He always said this is his single greatest achievement,” said Jay Berman, who was a member of Bayh’s staff from 1965-76, including being chief of staff his final two years of working for the senator. “We didn’t think Title IX would have the impact that it has had on sports. But he was just as concerned about women not having the opportunity to play sports as he was about not being able to get into medical school or law school.”

Bayh could list legislative accomplishments that include being the only lawmaker since the founders to author two amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The 25th Amendment on presidential and vice-presidential succession and the 26th Amendment that lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 were penned by him.

Bayh’s inspiration for Title IX came from his wife, Marvella, who died in 1979.

Marvella Hern grew up in Oklahoma and was an outstanding student. One of her favorite people she studied in history was Thomas Jefferson, who founded the University of Virginia.

Marvella wanted to attend Virginia, but her application was returned: “Women need not apply.”

When Bayh was named the co-recipient of the NCAA Gerald R. Ford Award at the 2006 NCAA Convention that celebrated the Association’s 100-year anniversary, he told the NCAA News: “We spent 26½ years together with Marvella teaching me about what it was really like being a woman in a man’s world. Without her, I know I wouldn’t understand the importance of this legislation.”

Berman said Marvella Bayh would inform her husband about the discrimination that women faced, and since they faced it in education, women ended up having few professional opportunities in the workforce.

How Title IX came into being

In the two years preceding the passage of Title IX, debates about discrimination against women and education were raging in Congress.

Bayh was an advocate, and in 1971 he tried to make an amendment to the Education Act. However, Sen. Strom Thurmond, of South Carolina, raised an objection and asked for a parliamentary inquiry as to whether the amendment was germane.

The parliamentarian ruled that since sex was never mentioned in the Education Act, it wasn’t germane, stalling the amendment. Undeterred, Bayh came back in 1972 and introduced the Title IX provision.

Bayh and his staff made a legislative deal with Sen. Jim Eastland, a Mississippi Democrat, and the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to help bring the Equal Rights Amendment to a vote.

Sen. Bayh said of all the legislation he worked on throughout his career, Title IX was the accomplishment he was most proud of.

Through negotiations, the Equal Rights Amendment was passed in March 1972, sending it to the states for ratification, and Title IX later became law June 23, 1972, with the Education Amendments.

Rep. Green and Rep. Patsy Mink, of Hawaii, championed the Title IX legislation in the House.

Working in a bipartisan way to pass legislation in Congress may sound impossible in this age of political divide.

“Our system isn’t the problem; it’s the people in the system,” Berman said. “The rules and process haven’t changed, but it is the people in it and how they use the rules and process.”

“They didn’t want to wake the bear,” Berman said. “It was an incredibly strategic move, and it worked. If you look at the U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding Title IX, the justices look at the history and one person is cited, and that’s Birch Bayh. They ask the question, what did Birch Bayh mean when he wrote those 37 words.


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May 2022 is 3.6%. That unemployment rate is the same as the 3.6% rate of March and April 2022 and substantially less than the 5.5% unemployment rate of May 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 May was 7.1% up from 7.0% in April and less than 9.7% a year earlier. The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in May is 62.3%, down from 62.2% in April 2022.

The Demographics of Unemployment for May 2022

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)

  • Women –2.9% (up from last month)
  • Men –3.1% (same as last month)

Unemployment by Race

  • White – 3.2% (same as last month)
  • Black –6.2% (up from last month)
  • Hispanic – 4.3% (up from last month)
  • Asian –2.4% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)

  • Less than high school –5.2% (down from last month)
  • High School –3.8% (same last month)
  • Some college –3.4% (up from last month)
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 2.0% (same as last month)

In April 2022, 27 states had unemployment rates below the national average of 3.6%. 23 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had unemployment rates that were above the national average. Two states, Colorado and West Virginia, had unemployment rates that were the same as the national average.

The state/territory with the highest unemployment rate in April was Puerto Rico at 6.4%.

Belief in God

The change in belief in God between (2013-17; average from surveys in 2013, 2014, 2017)

2013-2017 2022 Change (% points)
Total 87% 81% -6
Men 83 80 -3
Women 90 83 -7
Non-Hispanic whites 85 79 -6
18-29 years 78 68 -10
65+ years 90 87 -3
College Grads 83 78 -5
Non-college grad 89 84 -5
Married 89 88 -1
Not married 85 77 -8
Republican 95 92 -3
Independent 84 81 -3
Democrat 84 72 -12
Conservative 95 94 -1
Moderate 88 86 -2
Liberal 73 62 -11
East 82 78 -4
Midwest 87 79 -8
South 93 86 -7
West 82 80 -2
City resident 86 82 -4
Suburban resident 86 80 -6
Town/Rural resident 89 82 -7

Which comes closest to your view of God?

Hears Prayers Intervenes Hears Prayers Only Does Neither No Belief in God
Attends Service Weekly 74% 23% 2% 1%
Attends Service Weekly / Monthly 50 36 10 3
Attends Service Seldom / Never 28 27 15 28
Republican 54 31 7 7
Independent 39 30 12 18
Democrat 32 25 15 26
Conservative 56 30 8 5
Moderate 40 33 12 13
Liberal 25 21 16 35
18-29 30 29 9 32
30-49 40 27 14 17
50-64 50 29 10 9
65+ 44 31 11 12

[Gallup 6/17/22]

“Top Gun: Maverick”, a Tom Cruise film, took in $156 million at theater box offices over the Memorial Day opening weekend, setting a United States historical record for that weekend.

The previous record holder was “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” a Johnny Depp film which earned $153 million over the long weekend in 2007.

Just 8% of Manhattan office workers were back in the office five days a week as of the week of May 7th, according to data released by the Partnership for New York City [NYT 5/15/22]

In 2021, the highest paid beach lifeguard in L.A. earned $510,000 including base, overtime, and other pay. 98 of the lifeguards at that beach made more than $200,000.

There are 2.4 doctors for every 1,000 residents in Mexico, according to the National Institute for Statistics, more than most countries in Latin America, and just below the United States, which has 2.6 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants.
[NYT 6/8/22]

The number of young people who identify as transgender nationally is about 300,000, according to a report by the Williams Institute, which is much higher than previous estimates. [NYT 6/19/22]