State of the Nation

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

32% of registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction. 59% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track.

  Right track Wrong track
Male 33% 56%
Female 27% 58%
Democrats 54% 32%
Republicans 15% 81%
Independents 22% 59%
Urban 44% 45%
Suburban 25% 62%
Rural 20% 66%

[Econ/YouGov 11/19/22]

In the previous issue of the Washington Watch, on November 5, 2022, 21% said right direction and 72% said it was on the wrong track.

In November 2022, the world population hit 8 billion. [WP 11/15/22]

The average American child between the ages of 13 and 18 spends seven hours and 22 minutes looking at a screen each day. [NYT 11/13/22]

The number of same-sex couple households in the United States surpassed 1 million for the first time – 1.2 million in 2021, up from 550,000 in 2008. [U.S. Census Bureau data]

A wide and bipartisan majority of Americans worry there is increased danger of politically motivated violence in the United States.

How concerned are you that there is an increased risk of politically violence in this country?

Very concerned 63%
Somewhat concerned 25%
Not so concerned 7%
Not at all concerned 5%

Who do you blame for the risk of politically motived violence?

Republican Party 31%
Democratic Party 25%
Both Equally 32%
Neither 11%

[WP 11/4/22]

Is the U.S. a Christian nation?

  • 45% believe the country should be a Christian nation while 51% believe it should not be a Christian nation.
  • 86% of those who believe the U.S. should be a Christian nation are themselves Christian.
    • 27% are White Evangelical Protestants
    • 21% are Catholic
    • 3% The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    • 1% or fewer are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu
    • 11% are religiously unaffiliated
    • 65% are Republicans or Republican leaning Independents
    • 32% are Democrats or Dem leaning Independents

[PEW 10/27/22]

61% of Americans say legalization of same-sex marriage is good for society with 36% saying it is very good. 37% saying it is bad and 19% saying it is very bad.

  Very bad Very good
Total 37% 61%
Men 40 58
Women 33 63
White 37 61
Black 39 57
Hispanic 36 60
Asian 29 70
18-29 23 75
30-49 35 63
50-64 41 55
65+ 47 50
Post Grad 28 71
HS or less 45 51
Rep/lean Rep 55 33
Dem/lean Dem 19 80
Protestant 54 42
White Evan 71 26
Catholic 32 66

This survey, which was fielded in October, comes as some have questioned whether same-sex marriage will remain legal nationally following the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v Wade. Turning abortion laws back to the states. [PEW10/16/22]

Why do federal judges have so much power?

These judges are appointed to serve for life, which is meant to insulate them from public opinion or political pressures.

Can federal judges change national policies?

Yes. This spring, a Donald Trump-appointed federal judge in Florida ended the government requirement to wear a mask on public transit or planes. She used a tool available to all federal judges, a nationwide injunction.

Can federal judges hear cases involving the president who appointed them?

Yes. Despite the appearance of conflict of interest, judges don’t usually recuse themselves from cases involving the president who appointed them. And defendants – even former presidents – can’t shop for judges they think might be more sympathetic to their causes by filing their cases in courts where those judges sit.

How do lawsuits get to the Supreme Court?

Cases start in one of the 94 district courts. After district court, cases can be appealed to one of 13 circuit courts. If a party doesn’t agree with a decision made in a circuit court, it can be appealed to the Supreme Court. Four out of the nine justices have to agree to hear the case. The court usually accepts cases in which there is significant disagreements among the lower courts and a significant legal question to answer.

Can a federal judge or Supreme Court justice be impeached?

Yes, but it is extremely rare. Federal judges and justices can be removed through the same impeachment process to remove presidents.

Only 15 federal judges in U.S. history have been impeached. Only one of those was a Supreme Court associate justice, Associate justice Samuel Chase impeached more than 200 years ago. After his Senate trial he was acquitted. [WP 9/29/22]

Of the current members of the Supreme Court…

Three were appointed by President George H.W. Bush:

  • Chief Justice Roberts
  • Associate Justice Thomas
  • Associate Justice Alito

Three were appointed by President Donald Trump:

  • Associate Justice Gorsuch
  • Associate Justice Kavanaugh
  • Associate Justice Barrett

Two were appointed by President Barack Obama:

  • Associate Justice Sotomayor
  • Associate Justice Kagan

One was appointed by President Joseph Biden:

  • Associate Justice Jackson

Who are the people who have argued before the U.S. Supreme Court?

Since the start of the 2017 term…

  • 374 lawyers have argued before the Justices. A number of them, have argued more than a dozen times.
  • Nearly 81% of the lawyers (whose race was confirmed) are white and 62% are white men.
  • Nearly 9% are Asian American.
  • While 19% of Americans and nearly 6% of lawyers in the U.S. are Hispanic only 3.6% of the Supreme Court lawyers were Hispanic.
  • While almost 14% of Americans and 4.5% of lawyers nationally are Black, only 2.3% of laws in the analysis were Black.
  • 38% of American lawyers are women, women make up only 20% of those who argued before the Court.
  • Just six Asian American women, two biracial women, one Hispanic woman and one Black woman have argued before the court since the start of the 2017 term.

For the first time in its history, white men do not make up a majority of the Justices.

Once or twice a term, when the Justice Department no longer wants to be part of a case (due to a change in administration) or because a party to a lawsuit withdraws, the court will still want to hear an argument in favor of their positions. This is called an “amicus brief”.

Since 2000, 33 lawyers have been appointed to deliver amicus briefs: 27 men and 6 women.

When Congress convenes in January 2023, there will be 5 Black Republicans serving on Capitol Hill. This is more Black Republican members than at any point since 1877. [FiveThirtyEight]

% of U.S. adults who identify politically as

  • Republican/Lean Republican 45%
  • Democrat/Lean Democrat 47%
  • Refused 7%

% of U.S. adults who identify religiously as

  • Protestant 41%
  • Catholic 18%
  • Other faith 9%
  • Religiously unaffiliated 31%
  • Refused 2%

% of U.S. adults who say they use the internet

  • Almost constantly 42%
  • Several times a day 43%
  • Daily or several times a week 9%
  • Less often or does not use the internet 6%

[National Public Opinion Reference Survey 9/21/22]

Share of U.S. adults with at least a bachelor’s degree who use the following news sources at least a few times per week.

Source Percent
New York Times 58%
Wall Street Journal 55%
Washington Post 55%
Foreign News (Guardian, Economist, Financial Times, BBC News) 54%
U.S. Public news (PBS News, NPR News) 51%
CNN 48%
U.S. Network TV News 38%
Fox News 36%

[Morning Consult 8/17/22]

Three-quarters of Americans report buying things online using a smartphone, but that is even higher among adults under 50.

76% of U.S. adults say that when they buy things online, they use a smartphone, 69% say they use a desktop or laptop computer, and 28% use a tablet.

Mobile phone shopping is most common among adults under 50.
91% of folks who fit that age group say they use a smart phone.

38% of U.S. adults prefer buying from a physical store than shopping online. [PEW 11/21/22]

Small retailers support millions of jobs in the U.S.

Here are the number of employees in retail trade in the U.S. in 2020, by employment size of establishment.

Business Size Number of People
Less than 5 employees .86 million
5-9 employees 1.63 million
10-19 employees 2.30 million
20-49 employees 3.08 million
50-99 employees 2.18 million
100-248 employees 3.52 million
250-499 employees 1.75 million

[U.S. Census Bureau – latest available data as of Nov. 2022] [Thanks to Jay Berman]

The following is the “Feeling Thermometer” of key figures and organizations as of September 2022.

Total Positive Total Negative Net
FBI 43% 33% 10%
DOJ 38 37 1
DeSantis 31 33 -2
Biden 42 47 -5
Democratic Party 37 47 -10
Gavin Newsom 18 33 -15
Republican Party 33 48 -15
Donald Trump 34 54 -20

[Meet the Press 10/18/22]

75% of people in the U.S. never tweet.

On an average weeknight in January, just 1% of U.S. adults watched primetime Fox News (2.2 million). 0.5% tuned into MSNBC (1.5 million).

Nearly three times more Americans (56%) donated to charities during the pandemic than typically give money to politicians and parties (21%).

As polarized as America seems, Independents, who are somewhere in the middle, would be the largest party. In Gallup 2021 polling, 29% of Americans identified as Democrats, 27% of Republicans, and 42% as Independents. [AXIOS 3/13/22]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November 2022 is 3.7%.

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 is 6.7 % in November and less than 7.7% a year earlier. The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in November 2022 is 62.1%, down from 61.9% in November 2021.

The Demographics of Unemployment for September 2022

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)

  • Women –2.9% (down from last month)
  • Men –3.0% (same as last month)

Unemployment by Race

  • White – 3.2% (same as last month)
  • Black –5.7% (down from last month)
  • Hispanic – 3.9% (down from last month)
  • Asian –2.7% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)

  • Less than high school –4.4% (down from last month)
  • High School –3.9% (same as last month)
  • Some college –3.2% (up from last month)
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher –2,0% greater than last month)

In October 2022, 30 states had unemployment rates below the national average of 3.7%. 21 states, including the District of Columbia, had unemployment rates that were above the national average.

The state/territory with the highest unemployment rate was D.C. at 4.8%. found that a quarter of employers plan to give salary increases of 5% to 7% in 2023. [NYT 10/22/22]