Harvard-Harris poll: "Defund the police" an even bigger albatross than ever

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

How often do we see three-quarters of Americans agreeing on anything? Apple pie probably wouldn’t get 75% approval in a poll these days. According to a new Harvard-Harris poll, however, three quarters of Americans have had enough of “defund the police.” They want more police officers on the street, stat:

A vast majority of voters say more police are needed on the street amid concerns over a rise in violent crime across the country, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey.

Seventy-five percent of respondents said more police are needed on the street while only 25 percent say they do not need more cops on the beat.

Seventy-two percent of voters also said they oppose “defunding the police,” and a slim 52 percent majority said they support the controversial practice of stop and frisk in urban areas to “deter gun crime.” Fifty-six percent also say they oppose eliminating cash bail.

Unfortunately, The Hill doesn’t supply much more data than this from the survey results. The Harvard-Harris site doesn’t have this poll posted yet, so we don’t have any crosstabs, nor do we see much of the specific methodology on this iteration. Their site promises that they get over 2,000 respondents for their surveys, and that its results “reflect a nationally representative sample … weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, marital status, household size, income, employment, and education where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.”

For now, we’ll have to take their word for it, but these aren’t narrow outcomes. A few percentage points one way or the other in the sample doesn’t artificially create 75/25 outcomes. This is not just a broad rejection of Democrats’ and progressives’ agenda on so-called criminal justice reform, it’s practically a consensus rejection — especially on policing. Those numbers don’t just reflect a partisan unity on the part of the GOP; those numbers would require large numbers of Democrats as well as Republicans and independents.

Assuming this holds up, Democrats might face a very bleak 2022 cycle. Republicans already plan to make the sudden spike in violent crime into a campaign issue, and will certainly tie Democrats to the progressives’ “defund the police” campaign. Democrats keep claiming that they don’t support that agenda, but mayors and city councils controlled by Democrats cut funding to police in several major metropolitan areas in 2020 and 2021. Minneapolis’ city council is still trying to disband its police force. Good luck running away from that.

About the only good news for Democrats in this poll is the 57% majority supporting decriminalization of marijuana. That’s hardly a priority in most voters’ lives, however, especially when they’re worrying much more about carjackings than toking up. The media will ready all of their existing stock of “pounce” and “seize” to misdirect attention away from Democrats on the crime wave and the voter dissatisfaction with it; The Hill even gets an early jump on that spin:

The poll comes as concerns about violence make it a top issue heading into the 2022 midterms, with Republicans looking to seize on the issue to cast Democrats as soft on crime.

Republicans are “seizing” on violence as a campaign issue … when 75% of the electorate has already identified it as a big problem? Heaven forfend. Expect a whole lot more seizing and pouncing in the months ahead, thanks to Democrats’ seizing of anger over the George Floyd homicide and turning it into a national nightmare.