Posted on September 30, 2020

Murders Are Rising. Blaming a Party Doesn’t Add Up.

Jeff Asher, New York Times, September 28, 2020

Violent crime is expected to be addressed during the first presidential debate Tuesday, and President Trump has long attacked “Democrat cities” for not doing enough to stop it. In the run-up to the 2018 midterms, he called Democrats the “party of crime.”

Moreover, last week the Department of Justice branded three cities with Democratic leadership (New York City, Portland, and Seattle) as “anarchist” jurisdictions that “have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist.”

A deeper dive into publicly available 2020 crime data paints a more complicated picture than the party-driven explanation President Trump and the Department of Justice have offered. More cities are run by Democratic mayors than by Republican ones, but murder is rising pretty much everywhere, regardless of a mayor’s political party. {snip}


The F.B.I. recently released information on crime in 2020 through June. Though of limited value because it lacks data on individual cities, it found a nearly 15 percent increase in murder nationally and almost an 8 percent drop in property crime, matching trends I and others found earlier this summer. (The overall violent crime trend appears to be roughly even relative to last year.)

Over all, in 59 cities with murder data available through at least July this year, murder is up 28 percent relative to the matching time frame in 2019.

Sampling data from big cities has proved a reliable way of forecasting national trends in crime, and the recent sample shows a jump in murder in cities with Democratic and Republican mayors alike.

Big cities tend to overstate national crime trends, so a smaller rise in murder would be expected nationally, but a 15 percent increase in murders nationally in 2020 would be the largest one-year increase in modern American history in terms of both raw numbers and percent change (reliable data on national murder trends began in 1960).


Murder is up 29 percent in Democrat-led cities in the sample and up 26 percent in cities with a Republican mayor relative to the same time frame in 2019, and five of the 13 cities on pace for record-high murder counts have Republican mayors.