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September 28, 2012

"Crime not on presidential contest radar"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable new USA Today piece, which includes these excerpts:

Presidents and lesser politicians have been delivered to victory more often than not for taking tough stands on crime. Yet during a year punctuated by mass shootings at a Colorado movie theater and temple in Wisconsin, crime has all but vanished from public discussion this campaign season.

In a presidential election cycle dominated by concerns for a faltering economy and unemployment, crime rated a forgettable asterisk earlier this month in a Gallup Poll, representing less than 1% of Americans who believed it was the nation's most pressing problem. "When the economy is as big a problem as it is, it kind of squashes out the others," said Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief....

According to polling data..., 2012 represents just one more presidential election in which the often-emotional issue of crime has ranked near the bottom of the public agenda. The last time crime rated as the top concern of the American public was in 1996, according to Gallup.

"The most important responsibility of an elected official is to provide for the safety of the people they represent, and we haven't heard much talk about that," said Jim Pasco, the FOP's executive director. "When there is the kind of violence that we have seen this summer, you do expect there to be a discussion about it," he said. "But it seems like it is the last thing on the public agenda."

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the law enforcement think tank Police Executive Research Forum, said the apparent lack of attention is "a sign of the times."

"Twenty years ago, the homicide rate was double what it is today," he said. "If we compare ourselves against ourselves, crime has declined fairly dramatically.  But if we compare ourselves to countries like the United Kingdom, that's another story." There were more than 600 murders in Great Britain last year, compared to more than 13,000 in the U.S. "The gun issue is radioactive in this country for both Democrats and Republicans," Wexler said. "No one nationally has spoken about it. It's not even on the radar screen."

Long-time readers likely recall my laments that national crime and punishment issues failed to garner any significant attention in the 2004 or 2008 campaigns. Rather than curse this criminal justice darkness, I hope this weekend to do a post with timely federal crime and punishment questions that could be interesting and revealing during next week's first big presidential debate. In the meantime, I wonder if readers are inclined to complain or cheer the failure of any significant national politicians to give any real attention to these issues.

Some recent and older related posts: 

September 28, 2012 at 04:27 PM | Permalink


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I thought the economy was a big problem because of crime, just the crimes in the suits that no one wants to regard as crimes even though they cause more damage than people smoking pot in compliance with state law.

Posted by: Paul | Sep 28, 2012 7:52:52 PM

Yeah Paul, but though Samuel L. Jackson & Madonna are arguably causing less damage, what are they smoking?

'y'all better...'

Posted by: Adamakis | Sep 29, 2012 11:28:00 AM

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