It’s becoming clear that after the economy, crime is a hot-button issue driving voter sentiment in the lead-up to the November elections. Democrats continue to be divided over the controversial “defund the police” mantra, writes Republican strategist David Winston in Roll Call. The mixed messaging of party leaders versus the call by progressives to defund has become a costly roadblock to retaining the House as voters lose confidence in Democrats’ ability to address rising violence across the country. George Stephanopoulos raised the issue of Missouri Rep. Cori Bush’s statements calling for defunding the police with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “With all due respect in the world to Cori Bush,” she replied, “that is not the position of the Democratic Party.” Pelosi then declared, “Defund the police is dead.”
After President Biden called for increased funding for police in his State of the Union speech, Bush tweeted, "All our country has done is given more funding to police. The result? 2021 set a record for fatal police shootings. Defund the police. Invest in our communities.” In surveys, seven of 10 voters say they believe that across the U.S. violent crime is escalating. Democrats try to pose as supporters of the police while only reluctantly, if at all, acknowledging that crime is a major problem, Winston says. He says Democrats trail i surveys on the handling crime/safety issue by 12 points (48 percent favoring Republicans, 36 percent favoring Democrats). The Democratic Party’s silence about threats to safety has left Democrats supporting a policy position that voters find alienating, Winston maintains.