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Domenico Montanaro

President Biden held a nearly two-hour, very wide-ranging news conference Wednesday that, for all its headlines, underscored how external forces shape his presidency as it enters its second year — and none more so than the ongoing pandemic.

He touted accomplishments in his first year, from millions of vaccinations to the passage of massive COVID-19 relief and infrastructure bills.

Biden reflected on his struggles, too, painted a relatively optimistic outlook for the country, laid out how he wants to be president differently going forward, and even admitted mistakes.

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A MARTINEZ, HOST:

The bad news keeps on coming for President Biden. He ended 2021 at a low point in his presidency, hoping to turn it around in the new year.

Updated January 13, 2022 at 2:24 PM ET

This may be the end of presidential debates as we have known them.

The Republican National Committee has informed the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has hosted presidential and vice presidential debates for general elections for over three decades, that it will change its rules to prohibit the party's nominees from participating in CPD debates.

Video by Renee Klahr, John Poole and Nick Michael | NPR / / YouTube

Some Republican leaders are trying to move on from former President Donald Trump's failed attempt to over

Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. It was an effort to stop the procedural certification of a presidential election that Joe Biden won and Trump lost. The mob was egged on by conspiracies and Trump's lies about that 2020 election.

Those are facts. One year later, and a day after the commemoration on Capitol Hill of that attack, those facts should be indisputable.

From control of Congress and the strength of the Biden presidency to potential Jan. 6 committee revelations and the future of abortion rights, there's a lot at stake in 2022.

We have lots of questions about what's ahead. Here are six:

This year was supposed to be one of recovery, but it has been far from that.

It began with the insurrection at the Capitol, a second impeachment of then-President Donald Trump and President Biden's inauguration. As the year went on, Trump continued to lie about the election results while he remained one of the most popular figures among Republicans.

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Americans don't feel the direct payments or expanded child tax credits doled out earlier this year helped them much, according to the latest NPR/Marist poll, and they don't see Democrats' signature legislation as addressing their top economic concern — inflation.

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After months of infighting and public negotiation over their far-reaching legislation, Democrats are relying, in part, on the Biden administration's sales job over the coming months to try and salvage their shaky congressional majorities.

Two of the administration's top spokespeople, Vice President Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, were making that effort together Thursday in Charlotte, N.C., where they promoted the recently enacted infrastructure law.

Americans' most pressing economic concern is inflation, and it's contributing to a decline in how they view President Biden, according to a new NPR/Marist poll.

Biden's approval is down to 42%, the lowest recorded in the survey since Biden took office. And a slim majority also says he hasn't fulfilled his campaign promises.

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The idea that Americans are polarized makes it seem as if there are only two sides in politics — liberal and conservative, Democratic and Republican.

But Americans are far more complicated politically, a new Pew Research Center typology shows in a study that gives a clearer picture of the full spectrum of American political views.

Republicans rode a wave of conservative energy Tuesday night to a win in the election for Virginia governor and to land a better-than-expected finish in New Jersey, a race that is still too close to call, according to The Associated Press.

There were major shifts in both states in key counties and with key voting groups.

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The man who won the governor's race in Virginia made a promise last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GLENN YOUNGKIN: Together - together we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth.

(CHEERING)

Updated November 3, 2021 at 10:30 AM ET

Republican Glenn Youngkin pulled off the upset in Virginia, defeating Terry McAuliffe in the governor's race. And in perhaps an even bigger stunner in New Jersey, Republican Jack Ciatarelli was within a percentage point of incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

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A majority of Americans trust that elections are fair, are confident in their state and local governments' ability to administer elections, and will trust the results in 2022 and in 2024 regardless of whether their preferred candidate wins, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds.

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Updated October 26, 2021 at 7:56 PM ET

If we knew the answer to what Sen. Kyrsten Sinema wants, a whole lot of things could be figured out.

When it comes to the delicate negotiations about trillions of dollars in spending that could reshape the social safety net for years to come, the Arizona Democrat seems to hold the key.

In politics, it's often said that demography is destiny.

But the Virginia governor's race on Nov. 2 — the first big electoral test of the Biden presidency — is the latest warning of the potential peril in assuming which way key demographic groups will vote, or if they will vote at all.

"I don't believe that demographics are destiny," said Luis Aguilar, Virginia director for CASA in Action, the political arm of immigrant advocacy group CASA. "It's about a culture of civic engagement."

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Even as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, from fires to floods and hurricanes, two-thirds of Americans say if their home is hit they would rather rebuild than relocate, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds.

Republicans were the most likely to say they would hunker down and rebuild (81%). But more than 6 in 10 Democrats and two-thirds of independents said so as well.

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