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. 68% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track.

Right direction Wrong track
Male 27% 62%
Female 17 70
Democrats 42 41
Republicans 9 88
Independents 14 71
Urban 33 54
Suburban 20 66
Rural 15 76

[Econ/YouGov 8/29/23]

In the July 22, 2023, issue of the Washington Watch, 25% of registered voters said the country was headed in the right direction and 63% were on the wrong track.

Half of Americans name China as the country posing the greatest threat to the U.S.

China 50%
Russia 17%
No one 4%
North Korea 2%
U.S. 2%
Don’t know/Refused 24%

China has risen in Americans’ ranking of greatest threats over the years.

In 2007:

  1. Iran
  2. Iraq
  3. China

In 2014:

  1. Russia
  2. China
  3. Iran

In 2019:

  1. China/Russia
  2. North Korea
  3. Iran

About a fifth of Americans see the UK as the United States top ally.

Country Rank
UK 22%
Canada 6%
No Country 6%
Israel 4%
Germany 3%
China 2%
Japan 2%
EU 1%
France 1%
Mexico 1%
Russia 1%

Every year, about 4 million Americans turn 18 and gain the right to vote. In the eight years between the 2016 and 2024 elections, that 32 million new eligible voters.

Also, every year, 2.5 million older Americans die. So, in the same eight years, that’s as many as 20 million fewer older voters.

There is discussion in some parts of the GOP about raising the voting age to 25, and among some Democrats about lowering it to 16. [WP 7/19/23 – Celinda Lake and Mac Heller.]

Politics in America

1. Democrats aren’t young. Both parties are old.

Young voters tend to prefer Democrats while their parents and grandparents are more likely to prefer the GOP. In the 2022 House elections, 68 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 backed a Democrat, and 56 percent of seniors voted for a Republican.

Older voters rule both parties. In 2022, 6 in 10 Democrats and 7 to 20 Republicans were 50 or older.

2. Republicans aren’t rural. Democrats aren’t urban. Most voters from both parties live in suburbs.

  Urban Suburban Rural
Democrats 27% 57% 16%
Republican 11% 53% 36%

3. Religious Democrats and secular Republicans are both common.

Democrats typically represent the most secular voters. They consistently win almost all identified atheists and 80% of agnostics. Republicans represent more than 80% of the White evangelical vote.

Protestant Catholic Other Unaffiliated
Democrats 33% 17% 10% 39%
Republicans 59% 21% 6% 14%

4. Both parties rely on White college graduates – not just Democrats.

In 2022, only 52% of White college graduates voted for Democrats, and 47% favored Republicans.

Racial and educational breakdown of each party:

White, college ed White, non-college ed Non-white
Democratic 37% 27% 36%
Republican 31% 54% 15%

5. The Hispanic vote is not the GOP’s only route to victory. Hispanic voters are still a small chunk of the GOP.

Racial breakdown of the Republican Party

Race Percent
White 85%
Hispanic 7%
Other 4%

On June 29, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ended affirmative action in college admissions. The ruling held that race-conscious admission programs of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It’s now deemed unconstitutional for colleges – both public and private – to weigh race as a factor in who they should admit. A new study, however, finds that effectively, affirmative action for rich kids is alive and well.

The study is based on what is called – for purposes of this study the Ivy-Plus colleges: the eight Ivy League Schools – Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth and UPenn – as well as Stanford, MIT, Duke, and the University of Chicago.

Less than half of 1% of Americans go to these prestigious private colleges. Yet these twelve colleges account for more than 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs, a quarter of U.S. Senators, half of all Rhodes scholars, and three-fourths of Supreme Court Justices appointed in the last half-century.

As previously mentioned, the economists find that wealthy children, even when they have comparable SAT and ACT scores to less affluent kids, are much more likely to get into these elite schools. A student from the richest 1% of American families (from families earning $611,00 per year) is twice as likely to attend an elite private college as a middle-class student (from a family earning between $83,000-$116,000) with the same academic credentials: they find no such advantages for rich kids at America’s flagship public universities, like UC Berkeley or the University of Michigan.

U.S Population Projections

2005 2040 2050
Population in millions 294 366 438
White 67% 51.70% 47%
Hispanic 14% 23.46% 29%
Black 13% 13% 13%
Asian 5% 7.24% 9%

19% of Americans will be foreign born by 2050.

For the period from 2005-2050 new immigrants and their descendants will account for 82% of population increase.

Of the 117 million people added to the population during this period – 67 million will be the immigrants themselves, 47 million will be their children, and 3 million will be their grandchildren. [PEW 2/11/2008]

Doctor Income: Data from 2017

The average U.S. physician earns $350,000 per year. Top doctors pull in 10 times that amount.

In their prime earnings years of 40-55, the average physician made $405,000 in 2017 – almost all (94%) from wages. Doctors in the top 10% averaged $1.3 million. Those in the top 1 percent averaged $4 million though 85% came from business income or capital gains.

Top Avg Total Income Share of Income from Wages Average Workweek Hours
Top 1% $4.1M 15% 48
Top 5% $1.8M 49% 54
Top 10% $1.M 69% 54
Top 25% $871K 86% 53
Top 50% $626K 92% 50
All $405K 94%

As of 2017 Medical students have an average debt of $246,000. [WP 8/4/2023]

The rise of the wellness culture and the decreased interest in alcohol have led to the growth of non-alcoholic drinks – even for people who sometimes drink alcohol.

Athletic Brewing, a nonalcoholic brewery, saw a more than 13,000% increase in revenue from its launch in 2018 to 2021, brewing 875 barrels in year one compared to 1,700% in 2022.

But nonalcoholic beverages still make up a low percentage of overall alcohol sales – only about .05% from October 2021 to October 2022.

From August 2021 to August 2022, total dollar sales of these drinks was $395 million according to Nielsen.

Mocktails and other alcohol alternatives are more than a passing fad. The sector is expected to grow to $30 billion in 2025. [Axios What’s Next 8/03/23]

Households that make more than $75,000 have accounted for a large majority of the growth in renters over the past decade, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. [NYT 7/23/23]

Wikipedia has versions in 334 languages and a total of more than 61 million articles. It consistently ranks among the world’s 10 most -visited websites. Its contributors, who make about 345 edits per minute on the site, are not paid. [NYT7/23/23]

American consumers credit card debt has surpassed $1 trillion for the first time ever. The rise reflects soaring consumer confidence and spending power among cooling inflation. [Axios PM 8/8/23]

Second-home owners constituted half of all home sales in 2020 and 2021. [NYT 8/28/23]

37% of Americans say they have a friend who is at least 15 years younger or older than they are.

Intergenerational friendships are more common among older generations – Gen X (41%) and boomers (39%) and – millennials (32%).

People are more likely to meet their friends from other generations at work (26%) or at church or temple (11%). [Axios Finish Line – 7/17/23]

Dwayne Wade, who will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, moved his family out of Florida to California because of state laws that negatively affect the LGBTQ community. His daughter Zaya is transgender. [NYT 8/12/23]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June 2023
is 3.8%.

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 7.1% in August 2023, greater than the 7.0 % it was a year earlier.

The Labor Force Participation rate (LFPR) in August 2023 is 62.8% higher than the 62.3% in August 2022.

The Demographics of Unemployment for August 2023

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)

  • Women –3.2 % (up from last month)
  • Men –3.7% (up from last month)

Unemployment by Race

  • White – 3.0% (down from last month)
  • Black – 5.4 % (down from last month)
  • Hispanic –4.0 % (down from last month)
  • Asian –3.0 % (down from last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)

  • Less than high school –5.4 % (up from last month)
  • High School –3.8 % (up as last month)
  • Some college –3.1 % (down from last month)
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher –2.2 % (up from last month)

46% of U.S. workers, who receive paid time off from their employer, whether for a vacation, doctor appointments or minor illnesses, do not take all of their paid time off. [PEW 3/30/23]

Closing the Gap

The difference in earnings between full-time working women and men is now the narrowest on record, according to an Axios analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Full-time working women had median weekly earnings of $1001 last quarter, about 84% of the $1,181 median for men. It’s the smallest the gap has been since 1979, the first year for which earnings data is available. That year, women’s median earnings were 62% of men’s. [CNBC 7/27/2023]

What’s the most reliable method of predicting election results? Here is the answer from the Washington Post’s polling director, Scott Clement.

No method of forecasting elections is as reliable as we would like.

Close to an election, pre-election polls continue to be a good indicator of the likely outcome.

The following polls are considered most valid for national media.

Washington Post
Associated Press
Fox News
Monmouth University
Wall Street Journal
New York Times

[WP 8/17/23]