Democrats Begin Worrying About the Politics of Rising Crime

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democrat activists are warning their party’s lax attitude towards rising crime may produce an electoral disaster for the party.

“Violent crime is spiking,” tweeted Ezra Klein, an establishment liberal columnist at the New York Times. He continued May 21:

Homicides in cities were up by 25-40 percent in 2020, the largest single-year increase since 1960. And 2021 isn’t looking any better. This is a crisis on its own terms.


The politics of this could really tip, and not just in cities — if these numbers keep getting worse, then as with Nixon and Reagan in the 70s and 80s, it could bring “law and order” conservatives (including Trump) back to power in 2024.

Klein’s tweet prompted agreement from other well-read progressive writers, including Will Saletan, at “If crime surges, public opinion will move back to the right, fast. If progressives don’t rein in crime, conservatives will,” Saletan tweeted.

Nationally, the murder rate is up by more than 25 percent, largely because of urban shootings amid the Black Lives Matter movement and the rollback of police activities.  So far, the Democrats’ base shows little or no worry about the political consequences of their anti-police rhetoric and funding cuts.

Few GOP legislators are talking up the issue, in part, because of fear they will alienate swing voters. But a GOP campaign for law and order would be much preferred by business groups than a populist campaign for lower migration and higher wages.

Elected Democrats are also dodging the crime issue — even though it is beginning to take down elected Democrats.

Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to not run for reelection largely because of the rising crime rate, according to a report in the New York Times May 7:

But the most serious political threat that emerged for Ms. Bottoms in recent months was a phenomenon she had previously described as the “Covid crime wave.” Like many other American cities, Atlanta is struggling with a spike in violent crime, including a 58 percent increase in homicides last year — the likely result, researchers say, of the pandemic’s strain on at-risk populations, as well as institutions like courts and police departments.

The mayor’s inability to get a handle on crime has become the central theme for two challengers — Felicia Moore, the City Council president, and Sharon Gay, a lawyer — who thought they were going to take her on in the November election.

In New York, according to a New York Times May 11 report:

shooting in Times Square, a spike in gun violence and a spate of high-profile attacks on subway riders have pushed concerns over crime and public safety to the forefront of the New York City mayor’s race, altering the trajectory of the contest as the June 22 primary approaches.

A year after the rise of the “defund the police” movement amid an outcry over racial injustice, the primary will offer one of the first tests of where Democratic voters stand as the country emerges from the pandemic but confronts a rise in gun violence in major cities like New York.

“In 2021 alone, 299 people have been shot, a 54% increase over the same time last year, and the most the city has seen since 2012,” reported.

Democrats, including Joe Biden’s deputies, are dodging the issue and prefer to reframe crime as a natural, non-human event, like the weather:

But the rising crime is hitting many deep-blue districts. reported May 1:

From Washington to Louisville, KentuckyNew York to Oakland, California, and Kansas City to Atlanta, murder rates are trending up in U.S. cities large and small.

A sample of 37 cities with data available for the first three months of 2021 collected by the crime analyst Jeff Asher indicates murders are up 18% over the same period in 2020.


“Summer 2021 is going to be abnormally violent,” John Roman, a senior fellow at the economics, justice and society group at NORC at the University of Chicago, wrote this year. “It is the new normal.”

For example, retail store Walgreens is closing stores in far-left progressives San Francisco because an anti-sentencing ballot allows thieves to calmly remove items from retail stores. The New York Times reported May 21:

At a board of supervisors hearing last week, representatives from Walgreens said that thefts at its stores in San Francisco were four times the chain’s national average, and that it had closed 17 stores, largely because the scale of thefts had made business untenable.

San Francisco’s far-left District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, is facing a recall election.

Conservatives are looking to build coalitions with swing voters and liberals who are worried about crimes.

An anti-vagrancy group won a smashing victory on May 1 in the deep-blue city of Austin, Texas. “We won the votes of at least 40 percent of Democrats, at least 85 percent of independents, and at least 90 percent of Republicans,” one of the organizers wrote May 23 at  “That’s what a winning coalition looks like.”










Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.