Crime and the border are Democrats’ kryptonite. Whether the issues are going well, or going poorly, these are topics that Republicans always lean on to slam Democratic presidencies and administrations. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, the problem is messaging, and unfortunately, the Biden administration is not exempt from the follies of a bad message.

Violent Crime is Down

The recent slate of data regarding violent crime in America reveals something interesting. Violent crime in America is down, statistically. Over the last four years, policies have been put into place in various cities all over the country that have had a meaningful impact on occurrences of violent crime.

Source: Pexels/Pixabay

When we say violent crime, the statistics are regarding things such as murder, aggravated robbery, assault, and gun violence. Across the board, these occurrences are down. But unfortunately, this is not the widespread perception.

Republican Messaging

In an election year, this doesn’t bode particularly well for President Biden. Across the country, Republican challengers in swing states and Democratic primaries have been ramping up the rhetoric regarding Biden and the “violent crime problem” in America.

Source: Fox News

Republicans have been accusing the Democrats of being “soft on crime” for years, but the rhetoric always seems to increase during election season. It doesn’t matter what the data actually says, it’s a safe message for Republicans and, very often, works to drive turnout.

Conservative News Networks on the Attack

Unfortunately for president Biden, the tried-and-true method is working for Republicans, as it has in the past. News networks such as Fox News and OANN have been focusing on “rising crime,” particularly in urban areas where Democrats have a stronghold in local and state government.

Source: Youtube/Fox News

The strategy with this tactic is clear, with the intent to drive turnout in these cities that have historically been less friendly to conservatives. Stories like crime rings working to rob retail stores and cars being broken into do particularly well to work up viewers into a frenzy,

The Attacks Are Working

The tactic of convincing potential voters that the crime problem will only expand if Biden is elected to a second term works remarkably well. Democrats have a messaging problem when it comes to crime, and even more concerning, a perception problem with the voters.

Source: Gallup

A recent survey released by Gallup reveals some stunning numbers. A shocking 77% of Americans stated that they believed that crime is on the rise in America as a whole, with the number split between Republicans and Democrats at 92% and 59% respectively.

Polling Data Doesn’t Lie…Often

A separate poll revealed that 59% of Americans believed that violent crime is a “very big problem” in America. This same poll saw individuals stating that they believed that Republicans were better suited to handle the issue of crime in America, compared to Democrats.

Source: Pexels/cottonbro studio

While there is some truth to the idea that crime – at least briefly – was very high early in Biden’s term, recent numbers do not reflect that sentiment. Republicans are selling the story of high crime in America well, and many people are falling for it, despite evidence to the contrary.

A Large Crime Spike In 2021

So what is the evidence? Well, it is true that in 2021, there was a large spike in crime shortly after Biden was elected into office. Major cities across the country, including Portland and Philadelphia, saw massive spikes in major crimes. Homicide rose drastically across the country, the rate peaking at a 29% increase.

Source: Pexels/RDNE Stock Project

Much of these numbers can be chalked up to the pandemic, and the amount of people who were out of work at the time. Historically, spikes in crime have been associated with higher levels of unemployment and homelessness, and the pandemic saw both of those statistics rising drastically.

Data Pulled From 2022

Much of the data that Republicans are currently using to push the narrative that America is a crime-riddled cesspool comes from this time period. Fox published an article in early 2023 that discussed nine different cities across the country that saw record-high homicide rates in 2022.

Source: Wikimedia/SvG

Some of the cities discussed were New York, Chicago, LA, and Portland, but the article went further. It hyperbolized that many of these large cities were merely the starting point for violent crime, and posited that if something wasn’t done – and fast – that the crime would start to trickle down into smaller suburbs and rural areas, and soon there would be a nationwide problem.

Washington DC Is An Easy Target

One city in particular is a favorite of Republicans to point out for crime problems, and that is Washington D.C. Unlike many other cities, crime in D.C. has continued to rise as months have passed, which makes it an easy discussion point for Republicans, in conjunction with the fact that it is the nation’s capital.

Source: Wikimedia/Duane Lempke

Homicide was up 35% in 2023, violent crime up 39%, and car theft up a stunning 87% in D.C., which admittedly is alarming. However, this is not the general trend across the country, which the numbers as a whole show once you zoom out a bit.ers reveal when you zoom out a little.

Crime Is Down, And That’s The Truth

The truth of the matter is that in 2023, violent crime and homicide in particular saw one of the sharpest declines on record. Unfortunately, that messaging is getting lost on both sides of the aisle.

Source: Wikimedia/Yumi Kimura from Yokohama

Republicans benefit from the narrative that crime in America is at an all time high, and psychologically, appealing to our fear response is a good way to get our attention. Democrats have yet to come up with an effective message to combat this strategy, and it shows in public opinion.

Looking to 2024

Conservative leaning news are not the only ones attempting to capitalize on the so-called crime problem in America either. Donald Trump has been pushing the message that Democrats are weak on crime ever since he announced his bid for the 2024 presidency.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America

It’s a repeat of the narrative that he tried to push during his 2020 presidential bid, which ultimately failed to win him a second term in the White House. Crime speech is generally a winning tactic with conservative voters, and it appears that 2024 is no exception.

A Distraction Tactic

This time, though, Trump has used the supposed violent crime wave as a distraction tactic when trying to draw attention away from his ongoing legal struggles. He has called Atlanta a “violent crime war zone,” and after his indictment in Manhattan accused DA Alvin Bragg of not caring about violent crime in his home borough.

Source: USA Today

While this distraction tactic isn’t particularly effective in distracting voters from Trump’s legal problems, it is an effective message ahead of the 2024 election. Despite the data to the contrary, voters simply aren’t feeling safe in the country, and many of them are blaming it on the current administration.

Democrats Recognize the Problem

As for Democrats, they know they have a messaging problem. Many Democrats, when asked about sensitive issues such as crime rates and the border, will try to change the subject and focus on issues where their messaging is much stronger.

Source: Wikimedia/Dimitri Rodriguez

This kind of diversion technique is always noticed, and it feeds into the political rhetoric that Democrats know there is a crime problem, and are unwilling or unable to do anything about it. Despite the fact that crime has historically been falling for decades, voters are much more likely to vote with their emotions.

They Simply Can’t Argue With Feelings

This means that conservative’s more emotional arguments on crime are winners, as far as capturing the attention of voters. A representative from the RNC said in a statement that Americans are “less safe” under Joe Biden, and that Democrats are pushing policies that embolden criminals and weaken public safety.

Source: Wikimedia/David Lienemann

This emotional argument is the same one that conservatives are using to push issues on the economy, which is another area where people’s emotions do not reflect facts. In both crime and inflation, voters feel the issues are significantly worse than they are, and unless something drastic changes in the next year, they will vote accordingly.

Different Tactics, Same Results

The tactics the different parties will choose to use ahead of the 2024 election will be interesting to watch, especially in light of data. Republicans will continue to push the narrative that Democrats are soft on crime, playing on people’s emotions and trying to win the vote with rhetoric rather than fact.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America

Democrats might take the same tactic, accusing Republicans of capitalizing on crime statistics without actually doing anything about it. Some are already using this tactic when discussing FBI funding and the border funding crisis, and it will be fascinating to see the kind of rhetoric that rises as election day looms.