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Misleading
misleading

CLAIM ID

d9648ab2

The ten most dangerous cities in the U.S. are all run by Democrats.

While the cities with the highest crimes have Democrat mayors, studies show little correlation between party affiliations and crime.

During the 2020 presidential election race, President Donald Trump has claimed on multiple occasions that Democrats run the most dangerous cities in the U.S.

Preliminary data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Report covering the first half of 2019 shows the ten cities with the highest overall violent crimes in decreasing order are: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Memphis, Detroit, Dallas, Phoenix, and Baltimore. Based on the number of crimes per 10,000 residents, the top ten cities are Memphis (Tenn.), St. Louis, Detroit, Baltimore, Springfield, Little Rock., Stockton (Calif.), Cleveland, St. Bernardino, and Oakland (Calif.). All the mayors of the cities with the highest overall violent crimes are Democrats. The cities with the most violent crime per capita have Democrat mayors except Springfield, which has an independent mayor.

Although Trump's claims seem true at first glance, the insinuation that the overall crime situation is worse in these cities is misleading. A study conducted by The New York Times that was published on July 6, 2020, found a drop in overall crimes and violent crimes but an uptick in murders. It stated, in many major US cities, including Chicago and New York, violent crime overall is down compared with the same time last year. There have been only four years since 1960 (1993, 2000, 2002 and 2003) when murder increased. Still, overall violent crime decreased nationally, and the increase in murder was small in each of those years. Nine of 10 large U.S. cities have had more murders this year compared with last year at this time, and murder has tended to accelerate since the start of the pandemic. Some of these include Chicago, Philadelphia, Oakland, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Nashville, the NYT report highlighted. The data was compiled from multiple sources, including the police departments of cities. A BBC report explained how the pandemic could have contributed to the rise in murders. The mayor of Chicago attributed the rise in murders to a storm created by the coronavirus. The mayor of New York says the spike has been caused by a horrible dislocation caused by the pandemic.

The ranking of cities based on the FBI crime data does not portray a realistic picture of the density of criminal activities in the region because of the varied demographic and cultural factors that are at play in each city. The FBI itself explicitly warns against this type of ranking and says that each year when crime in the United States is published, some entities use the figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, tribal area, or region. Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing crime data of individual reporting units from cities, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of their population coverage or student enrollment.

Multiple studies on crime hotspots indicate that crime tends to be less of a widespread geographic phenomenon. Instead, they remain strongly concentrated within small social networks within cities. Therefore based on different measures which should be taken into account for assessing the crime situation in cities is that the voting patterns in cities are different from that of suburban and rural areas, which have lower crime rates. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2018 found that people in urban counties were twice as likely to be Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents. Bloomberg's CityLab's Congressional Density Index states that in the 2018 House elections, Democrats had picked up at least 33 seats in Congress, almost all of them predominantly suburban. These suburban districts, once closely divided, are now twice as likely to be represented by a Democrat than by a Republican.​​​​​​

Hence equating surging crime rates with certain party affiliations in cities does not count as a realistic picture of the reasons why certain cities have high crime rates, thus making this claim misleading.

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