NewsNation Poll: Crime’s effect on the election


(NewsNation) — Voters overwhelming said crime will affect their decisions at the ballot box in a NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll released Thursday, with twice as many people feeling less safe in America today.

In May, 16% of voters said they felt less safe than they did three months ago. In July, that number jumped to 31%. Eighty-seven percent of registered voters revealed that crime is either somewhat or very important to their decision in who to vote for.

“People are usually often concerned about crime. Especially when they see friends or family members, crime is something that sort of sticks out to them in their mind as something they’re worried about,” said Decision Desk HQ data scientist Kiel Williams.

Voters have already acted in California to recall progressive district attorneys. San Francisco ousted District Attorney Chesa Boudin in a recall earlier this year.

“In the San Francisco DA recall, that particular DA was perceived as being very far to the left — that there were accusations that in some instances, he had stopped prosecuting certain crimes,” Williams said. “This is something that rises in salience in people’s minds when they perceive an elected official going to an extreme end of the spectrum.”

Also in California, the recall effort against Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon looks to be on track for a November vote.

In New York, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has only been on the job since January, but in that time he has experienced an exodus of 12% of his staff. In New York, crime complaints are up 37%, though the murder rate is down 4%.

Nationwide, violent crime was up 5% in 2020, and homicides had jumped by 29%.

In an effort to change the narrative on crime, President Joe Biden debuted his “Safer American Plan,” which proposes hiring and training over 100,000 officers in a 5-year plan. Included in the $37 billion package is $15 billion in grant money for states to prevent violent crimes.

According to the poll, voters say they trust the Republican Party more to handle crime (43%) than their Democratic colleagues (35%).

But Niel Stannage, a staff writer with The Hill, believed the GOP should have an even more sizable lead on the topic.

“It’s not an absolutely massive advantage, particularly for a party that has traditionally been seen as tougher on crime,” Stannage said.

“When you think of the amount of publicity that issue has got, you know, in San Francisco, and other major cities’ DAs have been accused of being soft and crime. Those figures are not massively dramatic, they certainly don’t suggest this colossal groundswell of opinion, demanding much more severe sentences,” he also said.

Overall, most registered voters in the poll indicated they felt the same about crime as they did three months ago. Less than 18% of voters said crime was the biggest issue facing the country today than inflation, unemployment or COVID-19.

Despite a large number of Americans saying crime is important to their decision, Williams anticipated it won’t be at the top of voters’ priority lists “unless it’s something they personally perceive a politician going in a very extreme direction.”

“Unless I live in a place where the DA has, you know, in my perception stopped prosecuting crime, I’m not going to be voting based on crime, I’m going to be voting based on Joe Biden’s job performance, inflation, gas prices, etc,” he said.

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