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Gov. Kevin Stitt

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In the 2022 midterms, countless Republican candidates — hoping to distract voters from the abortion issue — have been focusing heavily on violent crime and blaming Democrats for the crime rates in major cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia. Crime was one of the subjects that Democratic nominee Joy Hofmeister and incumbent Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt debated on Wednesday, October 19, when Hofmeister reminded him how high the murder rates are in some red states.

Hofmeister told Stitt, “The fact is, the rates of violent crime are higher in Oklahoma, under your watch, than in New York and California. That’s a fact.”

Stitt disagreed, not surprisingly. But when podcast host Brian Tyler Cohen tweeted video of that part of the debate, he illustrated her point by also tweeting a study released in March 2022 by the centrist Democratic think tank The Third Way — which found that “8 of the 10 states with the highest murder rates in 2020 voted for the Republican presidential nominee in every election this century.”

The Third Way reported that “some ‘blue cities, like Chicago, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, have seen real and persistent increases in homicides.” But looking at states, The Third Way reported that “murder rates are far higher in Trump-voting red states than Biden-voting blue states.”

According to The Third Way, “We found that murder rates are, on average, 40 percent higher in the 25 states Donald Trump won in the last presidential election compared to those that voted for Joe Biden. In addition, murder rates in many of these red states dwarf those in blue states like New York, California, and Massachusetts. And finally, many of the states with the worst murder rates — like Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, South Carolina, and Arkansas — are ones that few would describe as urban. Only 2 of America’s top 100 cities in population are located in these high murder rate states.”

TheStandard Journal, on October 19, published an article attacking The Third Way’s study. But journalist Ronald Brownstein, in an article published by The Atlantic the following day, points to a new study by the Center for American Progress (CAP) that, Brownstein writes, “reinforces” what The Third Way had to say back in March.

Brownstein reports, “Countering conventional wisdom, the study found that homicides over recent years increased less rapidly in cities with progressive prosecutors than in those with more traditional district attorneys. It also found no meaningful differences between cities with progressive or traditional DAs in the trends for larceny and robbery…. The data, from CAP, a liberal think tank and advocacy organization, reinforces the message from a study released earlier this year by Third Way, a centrist Democratic group. That report found that per capita murder rates in 2020 were 40 percent higher in states that voted for Donald Trump than in those that voted for President Joe Biden.”

According to Brownstein, “The CAP study represents probably the most comprehensive attempt yet to quantify the progressive prosecutors’ effect on crime rates. Looking at the period from 2015 to 2019, for instance, the study found that murder rates increased in a smaller share of cities with progressive prosecutors, 56 percent, than in those with traditional prosecutors, 68 percent, or prosecutors who fell in the middle, 62 percent. The study used a classification system for local DAs developed by a former federal prosecutor who is a critic of the progressive movement.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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