Worries about crime spiking upward -- even in liberal Washington, D.C.


Is crime surfacing as a political issue? Evidence that the answer is yes comes from a Washington Post poll of District of Columbia residents. The number of homicides in D.C. has increased at a 58 percent rate from last year, according to the Post, and the Post poll shows that 34 percent identify crime and violence as the number one problem facing the city, up from 12 percent in a 2011 poll. Concern about crime is greater than concern about rising housing costs (18 percent), economy and jobs (11 percent) and education and schools (9 percent), each of which was named more often than crime in the 2011 poll.

I and others (notably Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute) have written about the post-Ferguson sharp upward spike in many cities, which arguably results from police refraining from the active policing techniques opposed by the Black Lives Matter group and its sympathizers. Here is proof that the upward spike in crime in one large city has produced an increased concern about crime and an uneasiness about personal safety not present a few years ago.

And note that this is a city that is approximately 50 percent black (though that number has been falling with the gentrification of former high-crime neighborhoods) and which is politically liberal: 91 percent for Barack Obama in 2012. It is the one place I am aware of where white voters are almost as heavily Democratic as blacks and more Democratic than Hispanics (at least in the 2008 exit poll; there was no exit poll here in 2012). This makes it all the more remarkable that the same Washington Post poll showed less than unanimous support for a ban on gun ownership, the policy response to crime favored (clandestinely, but clearly) by liberal Democratic politicians. Just 51 percent favored such a ban, while 47 percent opposed it. The Post treats this as a call for abolishing gun ownership, but I think it's something like the opposite: a rejection by about half of an overwhelmingly Democratic and heavily black electorate of a ban on guns.

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