Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans agree on violent crime surge, divided over causes




  • In US
  • 2021-10-23 19:39:21Z
  • By Axios
 

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

A majority of Americans mistakenly believes that violent crime is worse now than it was 30 years ago, according to an Axios/Ipsos poll.

Why it matters: Polarization and misinformation are driving competing narratives about how much to fear rising crime, what's causing it, what to do about it and how much to prioritize it as an issue in the 2022 midterms.

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  • Republicans are much more likely to blame reduced police funding and Democratic politicians for recent spikes.

  • Democrats are more likely to blame the economic downturn and too many guns.

Between the lines: Americans absorbed recently released FBI data showing that violent crime, including murder, has jumped since the start of the pandemic, with a historic one-year spike in 2020 data compared with that of 2019.

  • But many missed this important context: Even the higher numbers in 2020, and so far for 2021, are significantly lower than those of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

By the numbers: 64% of overall respondents said there are more reports of violent crime in the U.S. this year than last year. And preliminary crime stats largely bear out that finding.

  • There was little difference in how Republicans, Democrats or independents answered that question.

  • But 58% of overall respondents inaccurately believed violent crime is worse now than 30 years ago. That was true for about two-thirds of Republicans and a little more than half of Democrats.

Context: Partisan divisions quickly appeared when those who believe violent crime went up were asked to identify the main causes.

  • 54% of Democrats saw loose gun laws as a main cause, compared to just 8% of Republicans.

  • 85% of Democrats said tighter gun control restrictions would have at least a minor impact on reducing gun violence and violent crime; 53% of Republican respondents said that would have no impact at all.

  • 58% of Republicans - but just 14% of Democrats - said reduced police funding was a main cause.

  • Fact check: While the 50 largest U.S. cities cut their 2021 police budgets 5.2% in aggregate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg CityLab, law enforcement's share of general expenditures actually rose slightly.

The intrigue: A majority of respondents reported feeling at least somewhat safe in their own communities, while Black and Hispanic respondents were less likely to feel safe, and more likely to express concerns about crime and violence, than white respondents.

What they're saying: Chris Jackson, Ipsos pollster and senior vice president, said the fact that most Americans feel largely safe in their own communities but are deeply divided on the causes of and responses to violent crime shows that issue "has been pushed into a national partisan framing."

  • "It's really an abstract issue for most people, and their views about it are defined by the media they consume."

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos poll was conducted Oct. 14-20 by Ipsos KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,246 general population adults age 18 or older. The sample includes 310 Republicans, 407 Democrats and 425 independents.

  • The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.

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