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Violent crime is on the rise in urban areas of the country.
Many small towns that typically have relatively few murders are seeing significant increases from last year. Murders in Albuquerque, NM, Austin, Texas and Pittsburgh, for example, have roughly doubled so far in 2021, while Portland, Oregon has had five times as many murders as last year, data shows. compiled by Jeff Asher, a criminal data analyst and co-founder of AH Datalytics.
Most cities in the United States, including each of the ones named above, have a Democratic mayor. After last year’s protests against police violence against black Americans – most notably the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis – there has been a push from the left to “fund” police services.
As a result, several cities, including Austin and New York, have cut or reallocated police budgets – although some cities have sought to restore funding in recent months.
This funding debate, coupled with the increase in crime, has given Republicans what they believe is an opening in key districts that could decide US House control next year. The GOP only needs a five-seat net to do this.
“Democrats across the country have spent the last year funding police services, so they shouldn’t be surprised voters hold them responsible for the spike in violent crime,” said Mike Berg, spokesperson. of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which recruits and advises the GOP. candidates for Congress.
Republicans are already going after Democrats with a three-pronged strategy that includes attacks on crime; the economy, especially rising inflation and labor shortages; and border security.
How Democrats Plan to Counter the GOP
In response, Democratic strategists believe the Democratic candidates and the White House should directly address the issue of crime.
“The most important thing Democrats need to do is recognize the problem and demonstrate that they are taking it seriously,” said Mo Elleithee, executive director of the University of Montreal’s Institute for Policy and Public Service. Georgetown and veteran of four Democratic presidential campaigns. “I think the Democratic leadership is doing this. You’ve seen an aggressive pullback on ‘funding the police’, which is very clear, despite Republicans’ best efforts to paint the whole party with it, it’s not. the majority position of Democrats, not Democratic officials or Democratic voters. “
Democratic candidates are encouraged by the party to tout their accomplishments, like securing increased funding for police and schools as part of the COVID-19 relief plan Democrats have adopted – as well as fending off Republican attacks.
“House Democrats have poured billions of dollars into the US bailout that local municipalities are using to fund both police and community violence response programs,” said Chris Taylor, spokesperson for the US. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Compare that with every Republican vote in the House against the US bailout. Now they spend full time lying about our stance to scare the American people because they don’t have a real plan to keep them safe. communities. “
Elleithee noted that Democrats have a holistic approach to tackling crime that goes beyond policing they should be taking.
“I think most people understand that policing is too small,” he said, noting Democrats were looking for ways to “strengthen economic development and social services at the local level to reduce the burden security forces “, as well as instituting firearms security measures.
“Frankly, Republicans could face so much peril on this issue if they focus on fear tactics but don’t have a good answer,” Elleithee added.
Another veteran Democratic agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he consults multiple campaigns and wanted to speak freely about strategy, agreed Democrats need to turn the tide on Republicans.
He said Democratic candidates should point out that Republicans have all voted against the COVID-19 relief bill and that the GOP “turns a blind eye” to violence on Capitol Hill on January 6, when police came under attack.
“I don’t know if Democrats win on crime,” the agent said, “but if they can scramble it, then maybe we take it off the table.”
A slim majority
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It won’t be that easy, especially if crime continues to rise.
With Americans concerned about the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus spread and economic uncertainty, the 2022 election could come down to whether people can get out, if they have money to spend when they do. do and if they feel safe to do so.
Democrats have a tenuous hold on Congress with this slim majority in the House and even tighter control over the Senate.
And the story is on the Republicans’ side. Since World War II, the ruling party has lost an average of nearly 26 House seats and two Senate seats during a first presidential term. And the two most recent presidents, Donald Trump and Barack Obama, saw their parties lose dozens of House seats in the 2018 and 2010 elections, respectively.
The only president since World War II to have seen his party win seats in his first term was George W. Bush. But it was in the aftermath of September 11 with a national unity that has probably not been seen since.
And one wonders if the Democratic coalition will be as strong next year as it was in 2020 given that, for so many voters, Trump’s resignation was the top priority and has covered up most of the differences between them. .
Biden Democrats vs. ‘Awakened’ Progressives
It is often difficult for nuanced messages to stick in politics.
This is something President Biden struggled with as well. As the 2020 presidential election approaches, Trump falsely accused Biden of wanting to “fund the police.”
“No, I don’t support police funding,” Biden told CBS News over a year ago. “I support the conditioning of federal assistance to police whether or not it meets certain basic standards of decency and honesty.”
He continually reiterated one version of this response as he faced pressure from the left and criticism from the Conservatives. Biden won, despite accusations from the right that he was just a Trojan horse for progressives and a socialist police fundraising program.
But crime continues to be a nagging problem for Biden. He is getting high marks for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic – arguably the main area of concern when he took office six months ago. But crime is growing in importance for many Americans, and they are divided over its management.
This has led the White House to pretend to do something about the matter, despite the decentralization of police services across the country, which are controlled at the municipal level.
“It seems like most of my career has been spent on this issue,” Biden said earlier this month when calling a meeting of law enforcement and local officials. “While there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, we do know that some things work, and the first of those that work is to stem the flow of firearms used to commit violent crimes. “
Biden and the crime go back decades. In the 2020 presidential primary, he had to fend off criticism from the left for drafting the 1990s crime bill. Violent crime was at a high level then, but critics said the law had contributed to the mass incarceration of many black men, and often not for violent crimes.
Biden said his position had been “grossly distorted” and noted in a 2019 speech that crime in the 1980s and 90s “was out of control. The Crime Bill was designed to solve this problem.” .
The bill passed overwhelmingly in Congress with broad Democratic backing and support from the Congressional Black Caucus.
Times have changed and so have the pressures, but the White House and more tonically center-left Democrats are taking solace in Biden’s victory – as well as Eric Adams’ victory for New York mayor. They point to these victories as proof that while the progressive left can get a lot of attention, the heart of the Democratic Party is more in Biden’s mold.
“What bothers them [pro-Biden Democrats] the most about the ‘awake’ Democrat is that he puts ideology before victory, “said the Democratic agent.” And for a lot of Democrats it should be about winning, because if you win, you can set up the things that speak to you. “
Elleithee echoed this.
“The loudest voices on Twitter get the most attention, but that’s not where the party seems to be,” he said. “Where the party is united, however, calls for smart police reform. So if the Democratic Party candidates can focus on that, instead of a really politically muffled slogan, so I think there is very little risk of the coalition unraveling on this issue at least. “