As we look ahead to 2022, there’s a good chance the issue will not reemerge. Consider a study by the Voter Study Group that found that immediately after the murder of George Floyd, positive views of the police sank sharply among Democrats. However, over the next six months, Democratic views turned much more positive. And today, Democrats have mostly favorable views of the police.
The uptick in crime might not affect as many people as it once did, either. This past July, in Politico, historian Josh Zeitz suggested that crime resonated as a political issue in the past because its effect was immediately apparent. He said that, in the 1970s, “many working-class and middle-class voters lived in cities or inner-ring suburbs where crime was not a hypothetical concern; it was an everyday reality.” But recent trends in geographic polarization have shown that the places experiencing the greatest surge in crime today — cities and inner suburbs, according to the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life, where I serve as director — are largely Democratic strongholds. In other words, there are simply not that many swing voters living in the areas most affected by rising violence.
Finally, the current political climate may be the most important reason why crime will likely remain on the periphery in 2022.