How Democrats Are Trying to Counter a Wave of GOP Attacks on Crime

Democrat candidates across the United States are being questioned about crime and public safety in the run-up to November’s midterm elections. One group believes the best strategy for Democrats is to link crime to how easy it is to get a gun in America. 

The best-funded gun safety group, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, is urging the Democrat party to link permissive gun laws to crime and public safety. 

An uptick in crime over the last two years, coupled with a spike in Republican-sponsored TV ads attacking Democrats on public safety, has pushed the issue to the forefront of the midterms. 

Two massive issues, inflation, and abortion are still dominating the campaign trail. But crime and public safety are rising issues. 

Mentions of crime in Republican television ads have doubled over the last month to 18 percent of all Republican ads launched in that time. 

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund was founded and primarily funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The gun safety group is now priming pushback against the Republican Party on guns. 

The new strategy is bolstered by a research project that includes interviews of nearly 18,000 likely voters across seven battleground states this summer in the wake of the Uvalde school massacre. The project tested messaging that explicitly linked anti-gun violence measures with crime and public safety. 

An example of the messaging was linking anti-gun measures such as background checks on gun sales and red flag laws to public safety measures such as the safety of law enforcement officers. 

The results showed that putting that lens over gun safety issues boosted support for Democratic candidates, not only among the party base but among traditional swing voters the party needs to keep governorships and Senate and House seats this year.

Polling this year found that 72 percent of Americans were dissatisfied with the nation’s policies to reduce crime, and 8 in 10 Americans said they worry about crime. 

Another recent poll showed that Republicans enjoy a 23-point advantage on the question of which party voters trusted more to handle crime.

Linking gun safety, crime, and law enforcement together aims “to reset that narrative” that has traditionally put Democrats on the defense, said Charlie Kelly, a senior political adviser to Everytown. 

That was especially true in 2020, when slogans like “defund the police,” which were popular among activists but not necessarily popular among general voters, were wielded against Democrats in races around the country.

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