Rising crime has emerged as a major factor in the upcoming election.
“The January 6 committee can’t win elections,” groused The New Republic last week. Abortion doesn’t seem likely to save Democrats this election cycle, either.
Early post-Dobbs reports of a blue wave seem to have been, at best, premature. The wave might have crested early; inflation might have emerged as more serious issue in the minds of struggling consumers regardless of the timing of the Dobbs ruling.
Whatever the Democratic Party is trying, it doesn’t appear to be working. At least, the media landscape is suddenly littered with dire polls, doom-laden predictions and admissions about how, “Democrats fear the midterm map is slipping away,” even from otherwise Democrat-friendly outfits like the Washington Post.
Democratic Party accomplishments aren’t making much of a positive impact on the polls and conflicting advice is pouring in from all sides.
“Stop boasting about the economy,” advises one well-meaning media outlet, confidently. “Start boasting about the economy,” advises another, with equal confidence.
Meanwhile, one message is making quite an impact in the polls- above and beyond the economy and inflation. Unfortunately, it has revealed another major potential stumbling-block for the Democratic Party.
“2022 poll: Republicans close gap on midterm ballot by attacking Democrats on crime,” wrote Andrew Romano for Yahoo News last week.
“Do you remember Scott Drake?” asked Ruth Ann Daily for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on October 23, 2022.
“He was an 11-year-old child who was strangled and mutilated by a homeless man on September 24, 2000,” Daily reminded readers. “Twenty years on, you might look at the city’s explosion of encampments, roadside beggars and open drug-dealing and wonder if it’s just a matter of time till it happens again.”
From Pittsburgh to Portland, Chicago to Seattle, crime is emerging as a major issue this election cycle.
In related news, “Lee Zeldin has real shot to defeat Kathy Hochul,” at least according to the New York Post. That a Republican should be within the margin of polling error while vying against a Democratic incumbent in New York is bad enough.
Zeldin is currently leading in a few of the polls.
The same is true in Washington, Rhode Island and Oregon, where Republicans are running neck-and-neck with Democrats in deep blue districts, at least according to the polls, due in part to concerns about crime.
Of course, everyone is taking polls with a grain of salt these days. But most pollsters are expected to under-sample Republican voters again this year.
Democrats seem unsure about how to respond to concerns about crime.
Most Democrats have all but abandoned the sinking ship of “defund the police,” though some media outlets are still holding on.
“Progressive Democrats should stop hunkering down and open their minds to further reforming bail reform,” argued the Daily News Editorial Board on October 22.
“The defense Democrats aren’t using against Republicans’ soft-on-crime attacks,” offered Vox helpfully on October 18, before asking plaintively: “If not ‘defund the police,’ what should Democrats’ messaging on public safety be?”
“Here we go again,” wrote Donna Brazile for TheGrio on September 28: “Republicans are using attack ads to portray Democrats as soft on crime to stoke racial fears ahead of the midterm elections.”
If Republicans are, it isn’t working: Inflation and the economy are still far and away the greatest concern of Black voters- just like most other demographics.
“Black voters name inflation, economic issues as biggest concern ahead of midterm elections in the TheGrio/KFF survey,” reported April Ryan for TheGrio on October 18. “TheGrio/KFF Survey of Black Voters finds that the economy is the top-tier issue for Black voters as inflation numbers hit a 40-year high.”
Drilling down on those numbers, 73% of survey respondents listed the economy as their biggest concern: Only 2% answered “racial disparities”.
Concerns about rising crime permeate these polling results as so many other. The same concerns are showing up in many major metropolitan areas.
Fair or unfair, most of the blame appears to be coming home to roost with progressives responsible for “defund the police”.
To distance themselves, moderate Democrats, and especially those running in districts suffering from rising rates of crime, need a clear, strong message on public safety.
The sooner the better.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)