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THE DEMOCRACY RACE

A new rating of the most “democratic” nations on the planet places the U.S. in 15th place in a list of 104 countries. The Vienna-based Democracy Ranking Assoc. offers an annual assessment of the “quality” of democracy among the populations, taking into account such factors as political rights, civil liberty, press freedom, corruption, political stability, “gender gap” issues and myriad socioeconomic indicators.

The top 10 nations on the list are Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland and Austria.

“The United States dropped from ranking position 14 to 15, but improved in scores from 78.3 to 78.5, with gains in politics, environment, health, and knowledge, but losses in economy and gender,” the report said.

Canada, Belgium, Britain and Australia outrank the U.S. The nations with the lowest rankings are Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Libya, Syria and in last place, Yemen. See the findings here: www.democracyranking.org

POLL DU JOUR

• 61 percent of U.S. voters are concerned that Obama administration policies “will move the country toward socialism”; 89 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats agree.

• 49 percent of voters overall say the economy will be better in the next year; 20 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Democrats agree.

• 42 percent of voters overall expect President Obama to be considered a great or good president; 7 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

• 38 percent overall expect Mr. Obama to be considered below average, or “one of the worst presidents”; 73 percent of Republicans and 5 percent of Democrats agree.

• 42 percent overall say that 2012 was a “good” year; 28 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Democrats agree.

• 41 percent say 2012 was a “bad” year; 57 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Fox news survey of 1,012 registered U.S. voters conducted Dec. 9-11.

Weary sighs, hopeful accolades to jharper@washingtontimes.com.