Rising Violent Crime Is Likely To Present A Political Challenge For Democrats In 2022 : NPR

President Biden is holding a meeting at the White House on July 12 to reduce gun violence. Violent crime is growing in many urban areas in the United States, and Democratic political strategists believe the White House must address crime head on. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images Hide caption

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Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Biden is holding a meeting at the White House on July 12 to reduce gun violence. Violent crime is growing in many urban areas in the United States, and Democratic political strategists believe the White House must address crime head on.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Violent crime is increasing in urban areas across the country.

Many small towns, which typically have relatively few homicides, have seen significant increases compared to last year. For example, murders in Albuquerque, NM, Austin, Texas, and Pittsburgh have roughly doubled so far in 2021, while Portland, Oregon, reported five times as many murders as last year, according to Jeff Asher. a crime data analyst and co-founder of AH Datalytics.

Most cities in the United States, including each of the above, have a Democratic mayor. Following protests last year against police violence against black Americans – particularly the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis – there has been pressure from the left to “discover” police authorities.

As a result, several cities have including Austin and new York, have cut or reallocated police budgets – although some cities have tried to restore funding in recent months.

This funding debate, coupled with the rise in crime, has given Republicans an opening in key swing districts that could determine control of the US House of Representatives next year. The GOP just has to pick it up a network of five seats to do that.

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“Democrats across the country have spent the last year compensating law enforcement agencies, so they shouldn’t be surprised if voters blame them for the rise in violent crime,” said Mike Berg, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP. recruits and advises candidates for Congress.

Republicans are already following Democrats with a three-pronged strategy that includes attacks on crime; the economy, particularly rising inflation and labor shortages; and border security.

How democrats want to act against the GOP

In response, Democratic strategists believe that the Democratic candidates and the White House must tackle crime head on.

“The most important thing for Democrats is to acknowledge the problem and demonstrate that they are serious about it,” said Mo Elleithee, executive director of the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service and a veteran of four Democratic presidential campaigns. “I think the Democratic leadership is doing that. They have seen an aggressive backlash against Defund the Police, which makes it very clear that, despite the Republicans’ efforts to paint the entire party with it, this is not the Democratic majority position . neither by democratic officials nor by democratic voters. “

Democratic candidates are encouraged by the party to promote achievements, such as raising funds for police and schools as part of it COVID-19 aid package that the Democrats were passed – as well as pushed back against Republican attacks.

“The most important thing for Democrats is to acknowledge the problem and show that they are serious about it.”

“The House Democrats have allocated billions of dollars to the US bailout plan, which local communities use to fund both police and community-led violence intervention programs,” said Chris Taylor, spokesman for the Democratic Congress election committee. “In contrast, every single Republican in the House of Representatives votes against the American bailout plan. Now they spend all the time lying about our position to scare the American people because they have no real plan to protect the communities. “

Elleithee noted that the Democrats are taking a holistic approach to fighting crime that goes beyond the policing they should be adopting.

“I think most people understand that police forces are too thin,” he said, noting that Democrats are looking for ways to “strengthen economic development and local social services to ease the burden on law enforcement “. Introduction of weapon security measures.

“Honestly, Republicans could be just as at risk on this matter if they focus on scare tactics but don’t have a good response,” added Elleithee.

Another Democratic veteran, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to deliberate with multiple campaigns and speak freely about the strategy, agreed that the Democrats must turn the tables on the Republicans.

He said Democratic candidates should point out that Republicans have all voted against the COVID-19 relief bill and that the GOP “turned a blind eye” to the violence in the Capitol on Jan. 6 when police were attacked.

“I don’t know if the Democrats will win on crime,” said the agent, “but if they can cover it up, maybe we can take it off the table.”

A weak majority

Democrats have a weak grip on Congress Drew Angerer / Getty Images Hide caption

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Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The Democrats have a weak influence on Congress.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

It won’t be that easy, especially if crime continues to rise.

With Americans concerned about the delta variant of the coronavirus spread and economic uncertainty, the 2022 elections could depend on whether people can go out, whether they can spend it, and whether they feel safe doing it.

With this narrow majority in the House of Representatives and even tighter control of the Senate, the Democrats have weak influence over Congress.

And history is on the Republican side. Since the Second World War the party has been in power has lost an average of almost 26 seats in the House of Representatives and two seats in the Senate in the first term of a president. And the two youngest presidents, Donald Trump and Barack Obama, lost dozens of seats in the House of Representatives in the 2018 and 2010 elections.

The only president since World War II to win seats with his party in his first term was George W. Bush. But that was after 9/11 with a national unity that has arguably not been seen since.

And the question arises as to whether the democratic coalition will be as strong next year as it will be in 2020, given that removing Trump from office was the top priority for so many voters and most of the differences between them have been masked.

Biden Democrats vs. “woke up” progressives

It is often difficult for nuanced messages to stay in politics.

President Biden is also struggling with it. In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, Trump falsely accused Biden of wanting to “disappoint the police”.

“No, I do not support the police’s debt relief,” Biden said CBS News more than a year ago. “I support the conditioning of federal aid to the police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honesty.”

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He repeated one version of that answer over and over again when exposed to pressure from the left and criticism from conservatives. Biden won despite allegations from the right that he was just a Trojan horse for progressives and a socialist, anti-police agenda.

But crime is still a nagging topic for Biden. He gets good grades for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic – undoubtedly the main concern when he took office six months ago. But crime is gaining traction for many Americans, and they are divided on how he deals with it.

That has led the White House to take action against the problem despite the decentralization of police departments across the country, which are controlled at the local level.

“It seems like I’ve been dealing with this issue for most of my career,” Biden said earlier this month after calling a meeting of law enforcement and local officials. “While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, we know there are some things that work, and the first of them that works is to stem the flow of firearms used to commit violent crimes.”

Biden and crime were decades ago. During the 2020 presidential election, he had to fend off criticism from the left for Writing the Crime Act from the 1990s. Violent crime was high at the time, but critics said the law contributed to the mass incarceration of many black men, and often not for violent crimes.

Biden said his position had been “grossly misrepresented” and stated in a 2019 speech that crime “had gotten out of hand in the 1980s and 90s.”

The bill was passed by an overwhelming majority in Congress with broad support from the Democrats and the support of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Times have changed and so have the pressures, but the White House and the more center-left Democrats find solace in Biden’s victory – as well as Eric Adams’ victory for New York City Mayor. They point to these victories as evidence that while the progressive left has received a lot of attention, the heart of the Democratic Party is more in the form of Biden.

“What is bothering you? [pro-Biden Democrats] Most of the woke up Democrats is that they put ideology above victory, “said the Democrat. And for a lot of Democrats it should be about winning because when you win you can use the things you talk about.”

Elleithee repeated that.

“The loudest voices on Twitter get the most attention, but the party doesn’t seem to be there,” he said. “But where the party is united, smart police reform calls for. So if the Democratic Party candidates can focus on that instead of a really politically deaf slogan.” [like “defund the police”], then the risk of the coalition splintering, at least on this issue, is very low in my opinion. “


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