A new poll from a Democratic voter research firm may be bad news for Democrats heading into the mid-year elections. Although Republicans and Democrats differ widely on key issues, a majority of voters in both parties now agree that violent crime has reached “crisis” levels.
Josh Kraushaar at National Journal reported, over the weekend, that a new poll from Navigator Research, a Democratic firm that releases a weekly “pulse” for candidates and politicos on top issues among voters, shows surprising agreement between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of rising violence in major cities.
“When you see a rare point of agreement between Republicans and Democrats, it’s worth taking notice,” Kraushaar noted. “That moment happened this week when the Democratic polling firm Navigator Research released its weekly survey, which asked voters what issues they rated as major crises. On most of the 14 issues tested, from the coronavirus pandemic to inflation, Republicans and Democrats differed sharply over their significance. For instance, 70 percent of Democrats still see the pandemic as a ‘major crisis,’ but only 30 percent of Republicans agree.”
“For the first time, crime ranked ahead of the pandemic as the top issue for all voters,” he continued. “Even more surprisingly, it was an issue that voters of both parties ranked highly: 57 percent of Republicans called the issue a major crisis while 52 percent of Democrats concurred.”
“Most significantly, 70 percent of African-American voters called violent crime a major crisis,” Kraushaar reported.
Last year, in the wake of the national anti-racism and anti-police brutality that followed George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Democrats adopted a progressive approach to crime — notably, Democratic politicians at all levels of government-supported efforts to “defund the police.”
Those efforts, while popular among progressives, were unpopular among black Americans. According to Newsweek, a poll taken last year — at the height of efforts to “defund the police” — more than 80% said that “they want police presence in their area to either remain the same or increase.”
As recently as April, Democratic strategists were counseling Democrats to shy away from calls to “defund the police,” according to Axios. “Calls by activists to ‘defund’ police departments can — and have — hurt Democrats in tight races, said Celinda Lake, a pollster who does work for the Democratic National Committee,” told the outlet.
Now, with crime spiking across the country, and following a “bloody” Fourth of July weekend that saw dozens killed and hundreds wounded in incidents of gun violence nationwide, it seems Democrats are “struggling” to find a way to stay tough on crime without alienating progressives — and at the same time stay tough on police reform without alienating black voters.
“It’s no secret that the ‘defund the police’ stuff is not popular. There’s a mainstream way out of it. People want to feel safe. They want to see we’re addressing the problem. I still think people think we need police accountability, but they can’t hear just one side of that issue from us,” one Democratic strategist told National Journal.
Meanwhile, even the White House is having difficulty getting ahead of the problem. After a particularly violent weekend in Chicago, President Joe Biden reportedly committed to sending a federal “strike force” to the city to help Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot get a handle on spiking violent crime, but Biden has yet to address crime on a national scale.
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