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CNN, MSNBC, NBC, and more sound alarm on midterm backlash against Democrats over crime

Figures on MSNBC, CNN, NBC, and more are sounding the alarm on recent crime polling, warning that voter trust in Republicans to solve the issue could have dire consequences for Democrats in the midterms. 

Crime has surpassed abortion among concerns for Americans, who also said they trust Republicans more than Democrats to handle it, giving them the highest lead on the issue in more than 30 years, according to a ABC/Washington Post poll released in late September. 

Asked which political party they trust to do a better job handling key issues, respondents answered 52% in favor of the Republican Party when it comes to crime, compared to 38% for Democrats.

USA Today D.C. Bureau Chief Susan Page, during an appearance earlier this month on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” cited Wisconsin Senate candidate Mandela Barnes as an example of how Democrats’ public positions on crime can negatively affect their election chances. 


A new CBS News-YouGov poll puts Barnes one point below incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson, R., in the tight battleground race. 

“You know, I think one thing that we found is abortion was an issue that really helped Democrats. Now crime is an issue that is increasingly helping Republicans, along with the issue of inflation,” Page said. 

On Sept. 19, MSNBC political analyst Steve Kornacki also noted polling favorable to Republicans on a number of key issues, including crime.

“What about the issues and the strengths for each party? What you see here is you ask people which party would you prefer on these issues?” Kornacki said in front of a large screen depicting polling data. “These are the three issues where Republicans score the strongest. The border, crime, and economy. By a margin of 36 points, 23 points, and 19 points, voters say they would prefer the Republicans when it comes to these issues.”

Just last week, CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten commented on data that showed a comparison of Google searches for crime and abortion, and what percentage of overall searches each topic obtained since April, when compared to one another. 

Enten noted that around the time Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, crime accounted for just 30% of the overall searches, with abortion at 70%. But in September, the statistics had reversed, with crime accounting for 71% of searches and abortion just 29%. 

“That is basically back to the pre-Roe v. Wade overturning sort of baseline, where we were back in April when crime was making up 74% of the searches versus abortion at just 26%,” Enten said. 


A day earlier on CNN, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Tia Mitchell discussed how violent crime is becoming an issue and how Republicans have earned a higher degree of trust among Americans to solve it. 

“We also have to put this in the context of we know that violent crime is becoming an issue for residents, particularly those who are adjacent to major urban areas, and even those who don’t live in urban areas, but the messaging they’re getting, particularly from the right, is that crime is out of control, particularly in states or cities that are run by Democrats. And we know that when you poll voters asking them which party do they think can handle certain issues better, they say that Republicans handle crime issues better,” she said. 

CNN anchor and senior political analyst John Avlon similarly warned of a possible “political backlash” on the topic, citing a Pew research study from late 2021 that found Black and Hispanic Democrats are more likely than White Democrats to support funding for local police. 

“Politicizing crime seeks to gain from other people’s pain,” Avlon said. “But trying to ignore crime for ideological reasons is both callous and clueless, and it’s sure to provoke a political backlash.”

Warnings about how Americans may factor in crime as a major voting issue also cropped up recently in online and print publications. 

“Democrats try to pre-empt the GOP’s ‘soft on crime’ attacks. It may not work,” a Sunday MSNBC article headline read. 

The piece, citing recent examples of Democrats rushing to “flash pro-cop credentials,” said the party likely anticipates Republican criticism on crime and policing across House, Senate, and state-level races. But candidates and Democratic strategists are split over how to respond, weighing whether to fire back or instead stick to issues more favorable to Democrats, according to the piece. 

“In short, it’s not at all clear that pre-emptive strikes and counterpunches will be enough to neutralize an issue that has bedeviled Democrats since the summer of protests that followed the police killing of George Floyd in 2020 — including progressive calls to “defund the police,” Jonathan Allen and Sahil Kapur wrote. 


“Republicans have unleashed a barrage of negative ads in the final weeks of the midterms that hammer Democrats on crime,” NBC News’ Adam Edelman, Natasha Korecki and Henry J. Gomez wrote. “In at least two states, the strategy appears to be taking hold.”

Recent polling shifted in Republicans’ favor after GOP candidates zeroed in on crime in two battleground states, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

A CNN politics piece last month revealed that House Democrats are hurrying to resolve an “intra-party squabble over police funding” threatening to crumble efforts to combat Republican attacks on crime and public safety. 

Melania Zanona and Manu Raju wrote that many of the Democratic Party’s most vulnerable members have created pro-police campaign ads and hosted local events with law enforcement.

Several other articles across The Washington Post, NPR, PBS, and The New York Times also highlighted Democrats’ blind spot on crime and how Republicans are seeking to use it to their political advantage. 

Democrats and members of the media have tried several avenues of criticism against Republicans on crime since the summer of 2020, which saw a number of elected officials voice support for defunding the police, as well as a number of other progressive crime policies. 


Such avenues of attack include linking crime, especially gun crimes, to Republican stances on gun laws. Democrats, including President Biden, have also claimed that Republicans are the ones attempting to defund the police because of their opposition to the president’s $1.9-trillion COVID bill, which included funding for police. 

Democratic politicians and strategists have also tried to pin voters’ focus on abortion and threats to democracy, two issues in which they are viewed more favorably. 

Fox News’ Jon Brown contributed to this report. 

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