According to the mindset of Republican politicians, when they are in power, crime is low. Where Democrats are in power, crime is high. “Republican-run cities are doing very nicely because they arrest people when you have crimes,” Donald Trump told Tucker Carlson last week. “The cities and these left-wing states allowing criminals to run wild on our streets, that doesn’t work,” Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, said in March, citing New York in particular. But party rule does not drive. DeSantis’s state had a homicide rate that was roughly 50 percent higher than New York’s in 2021. Florida’s two most populous cities, Jacksonville and Miami, each had a homicide rate more than double New York City’s last year, even though both had Republican mayors, the New York Times reports. Looking at the data, it is hard to make any connection between political partisanship and crime. To put it another way, prominent Republicans are misrepresenting the country’s crime problem.
The Republican claim is rooted in a real pattern. Big cities generally have higher crime rates than rural and suburban areas, thanks to their density and other factors. Democrats run most big cities because urban areas tend to contain more liberal voters. So when looking at the places with the most murders, you’ll often find Democratic-run cities. But whether a big city is run by Democrats or Republicans has little influence on its murder rate. Poverty and race play a role, both of which are historically linked to violence in cities. Access to guns is another major factor, particularly for murders. Guns make any conflict more likely to escalate into deadly violence. However guns have a partisan divide, Democrats are more comfortable regulating firearms, and that could help explain higher levels of violence in Republican states, especially in the South. It can also explain violence in cities, which get a lot of guns from Southern states with laxer laws. Political affiliation has very little to do with impacting crime. Factors like personal disputes, the economy, and social services are significant enough to make a big difference in crime.