NEWS AND OPINION:
The voting public has weighed in on the state of America and the news is not good: 70% of registered U.S. voters now say that 2021 has been a bad year for the country — and over half of the weary population — 55% — say it has been bad for them personally.
These results from a Fox Business poll cites rising prices, escalating crime rates and the approach of another year marred by a global pandemic as the primary influences.
Perhaps more importantly, a surprising 54% of voters say they are no longer “hopeful” about the nation’s future.
There is a marked “cynicism” among Republicans — 69% are not hopeful — along with White evangelicals (59%), rural voters (59%), and independents (58%).
“These findings are unusual, because Americans tend to be optimistic about the future,” said Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts polls for the network along with Democrat Chris Anderson.
“The promise of 2021 was that we would get off the roller coaster, but instead it felt like the ride was just as intense with little hope of returning to normalcy. For many of us, that is a little depressing,” Mr. Shaw said.
There’s also a trend of note, and a caution from Mr. Anderson.
“These ratings often shift dramatically based on who controls the White House, with partisans more optimistic when their candidates are in power. But the shifts among independents are instructive and a clear warning sign for Democrats, who will need to show more progress to woo these voters back before the midterms,” he said.
See the more numbers in the Poll du Jour at the column’s end.
THE MANCHIN WATCH
The news media is fixated on Sen. Joe Manchin III at the moment.
The plainspoken West Virginia Democrat who opposes President Biden’s beloved, trillion-dollar “Build Back Better” spending plan is a convenient source for the press, and one who prompts considerable speculation.
Will Mr. Manchin leave the Democratic Party? Will he continue to push back on the Democratic Party’s trophy legislation? Are the voters back home happy or vexed? Here’s a few headlines from the last 24 hours:
“Democrats set to play hardball with Manchin” (The Hill); “Team Biden will pay a hefty price for attacks on Manchin” (RealClear Politics); “What Manchin’s betrayal costs America” (The New York Times); “Manchin says Democrats tried to ‘badger and beat’ him into voting for Build Back Better” (Insider); “Will Joe Manchin switch parties?” (The Daily Caller); “Not backing down: West Virginians respond after Manchin torpedoes Biden’s massive social spending spree” (Fox News); “The real reasons Joe Manchin is driving a stake through the heart of Biden’s agenda” (NBC News); “Inconceivable: West Virginians react to Manchin opposing Build Back Better” (MSNBC); “Coal miners want Manchin to reverse opposition to Build Back Better” (CNN); and “Climate change is ravaging the planet: Don’t let Joe Manchin slow the response” (Los Angeles Times).
THE DOG WATCH
The White House has a new dog.
President Biden has now officially welcomed a very fine German shepherd dog named Commander to his household — offering a photo of the new canine in a tweet, complete with a brief welcome for him. The pup was born Sept. 1 and was a gift to the president from James Biden, his brother.
Things can get a little complicated in these times, though.
A brigade of social media scamps soon offered an observation about Commander.
“So his nickname is Commie?” asked Twitchy.com, a news site which tracks social media — and then cataloged plenty of examples of those who wondered the same thing.
Meanwhile, a female cat is set to take up residence in the White House in January, according to reports from both People magazine and Reuters news agency.
THE GIFT WATCH
There is a promising forecast from the National Retail Federation, which reveals that Americans will drop an average of $997.73 to buy those Christmas and holiday gifts this year. The industry group also notes that 90% plan to celebrate Christmas and Kwanzaa this year.
And the breakdown on that spending: $648 goes toward gifts, $231 toward decorations, greeting cards, food and candy; and another $118 for miscellaneous purchases of the season.
This could be a very good year for sales, despite the public health issues and uneasy politics in these complex times.
“The 2021 holiday season appears to be on track to exceed the National Retail Federation’s forecast for record spending despite supply chain disruptions, inflation and challenges like the new COVID-19 omicron variant,” said the organization’s chief economist Jack Kleinhenz in a statement.
For the week of Dec. 13-19, Fox News Channel was the top-rated network throughout the basic cable realm, with an average nightly audience of 2.2 million viewers — besting MSNBC (1.3 million viewers) and CNN (665,000), along with such non-news competitors as ESPN (1.9 million), Hallmark Channel (1.5 million) and Paramount (1 million).
During the week, Fox News also aired 62 of the top cable telecasts overall, and 14 of the top 15 cable news programs.
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “The Five” were the ratings leaders, each with an audience of 3.1 million prime-time viewers, followed by “Hannity,” which drew 2.6 million viewers.
Late night show Greg Gutfeld continues to ace the broadcast competition, averaging 1.9 million viewers — compared to NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” (1.5 million viewers) and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (1.4 million viewers).
POLL DU JOUR
• 70% of registered U.S. voters say that 2021 has been a “bad year” for the country; 83% of Republicans, 72% of independents and 56% of Democrats agree.
• 69% of women and 72% of men also agree.
• 55% of registered U.S. voters say that 2021 has been a “bad year” for them and their family; 64% of Republicans, 59% of independents and 42% of Democrats agree.
• 52% of women and 57% of men also agree.
• 54% are not “hopeful” for the future of the country: 69% of Republicans, 58% of independents and 37% of Democrats agree.
• 52% of women and 57% of men also agree.
SOURCE: A Fox Business poll of 1,002 registered U.S. voters, conducted Dec. 11-14 and released Monday.
• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.