The Influence of Crime on the Midterm Election

A review of the post-mortems from the November 8th midterm elections indicate that many were surprised by the outcome.  Most polls got it wrong.  The wailing by liberal pundits in the weeks prior to the election suggested that they were afraid voters were ready to put republicans in charge of Congress and many state houses in response to inflation, crime, immigration and general dissatisfaction with the direction of the country under democrat management.  With the exception of a handful of contests, this did not happen.  I was among those who felt that the issue of crime, in particular, was going to induce voters to cross political lines to pic candidates pledging to stop the violence, theft and squalor that currently defines many parts of America.   Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald evaluates the voters response to crime with this piece in the City Journal.

Much of her focus is on the hypocrisy of victorious candidates who ran on a platform of accusing conservatives as racists, while supporting policies enabling the unprecedented slaughter of urban blacks.

“To be sure, the post-Floyd crime increase has not only affected blacks. Carjackings have spread to traditionally safe neighborhoods; suburban women are having guns shoved in their faces as they try to get into their cars. Robberies are rising in city peripheries and in stable, middle-class enclaves within cities. Viral videos have documented the brutal beatings of the elderly, especially of elderly Asians, and the feral looting of stores. But the core of the post–George Floyd crime spike has been drive-by shootings, and they occur overwhelmingly between blacks and, to a lesser extent, between blacks and Hispanics. (In New York City, for example, blacks and Hispanics made up 96.4 percent of all shooting victims in 2020; blacks and Hispanics made up nearly 97 percent of all known shooting suspects in 2020. These ratios are replicated in every American city with a significant minority population.)

So when Democrats accused conservatives of the proverbial law-and-order “dog whistle,” they were saying that it is racist to care about black crime victims and that a surge in such victims should not be an electoral issue.

The left-wing residents of cities drowning in vagrancy, open-air drug use, theft, and assaults would apparently rather put up with a constantly deteriorating quality of life than abandon the white-blaming and denial of inner-city pathologies on which their image as enlightened progressives depend. Perhaps one day they will finally have had enough, but that day seems a long way off.

With regards to the spike in gun violence, voting on that ground would have required from white voters the exercise of cross-racial empathy. Conservative white voters are, in fact, in this reporter’s experience, genuinely appalled by the loss of black life or colorblind in their reaction to crime and victimization.

But such racial empathy was not enough in the face of conflicting directives. Democrats and the mainstream media were telling white voters not to care about those lost black lives. And black voters themselves remain overwhelmingly committed to the Democratic Party and are not demanding radical change in numbers significant enough to tip elections.

The judgment of the country as a whole, led by unwed Democratic women, appears to be that the fate of inner-city residents is not worth discarding more important ideological commitments for. It will fall to the police, working in many cases with no local political backing, to reverse the post–George Floyd crime surge—at least until white children start getting gunned down in drive-by shootings.

It took about twenty years for liberal, soft-on-crime policies the country adopted in the late 1960s and 1970s to induce intolerable levels of crime.  It took another twenty years for voters to reject those policies and elect leaders committed to law and order.  The current soft-on-crime cycle was about ten years old when the George Floyd riots demonstrated that much of the country was unwilling or unable to enforce the law, even against criminals committing crimes on television.  The midterms suggest that the voters still don’t care.  Is it going to take another ten years for the public to decide it is time for a change?

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