The polling comes as Republicans blanket the airwaves with "soft-on-crime" messaging in two key Senate races in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, both of which would be pickups for Democrats. In Wisconsin, FiveThirtyEight's aggregate shows Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes trailing GOP incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson by about 2 points. In Pennsylvania, Democratic nominee. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman holds a 6.6-point lead over his GOP rival, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
The Navigator survey also showed respondents expressed more concern about the impact of rising crime nationally (67%) than about safety in their local communities (26%).
The polling is a strong indicator that if Republicans invoke a rise in crime, Democrats should forcefully talk about voters' top two concerns: mass shootings and gun violence (not to mention hate crimes and domestic terrorism, issues number three and four, respectively). Democrats are working diligently to reduce both, while Republicans absolutely refuse to ban mass murderers' weapon of choice: assault weapons.
Republicans believe Democrats are vulnerable to a "defund the police" message. Georgia Republican nominee Herschel Walker unabashedly lied about the record of Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock. Walker lodged the entirely false claim in a TV ad, looking directly into the camera and accusing Warnock of cutting funding for the police.
That completely delusional claim couldn't be further from the truth. President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats actually increased funding for law enforcement, directing billions of dollars to states and localities so they could invest in police departments. Warnock voted for that funding increase along with co-sponsoring a bill aimed at helping small police departments hire and retain officers. It's not the first lie Walker has told during his campaign, and it surely won't be the last.
Navigator also tested a series of rebuttals to GOP fearmongering on crime.
The top three were the following:
Republicans are hypocrites: they want to talk about crime, but their own party is led by criminals who are facing criminal investigations and indictment for defrauding their supporters, failing to pay their taxes, and stealing classified documents from the White House (56% find this concerning, including 56% of independents).
Republicans would rather talk about crime because they don't want to talk about their plan to ban abortion in all 50 states, jail doctors who perform abortions and the women who seek them, and force the government and politicians into a decision that should be made between a woman and her doctor (54% find this concerning, including 55% of independents).
Republicans are dangerous. They've given over control of their party to violent right-wing extremists and white supremacist groups who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and support political violence (53% find this concerning, including 52% of independents.
Bottom line: Democrats shouldn't be the least bit afraid to talk crime, they simply have to do it on Democratic turf. Talking mass shootings and gun violence, pointing out GOP efforts to change the subject of abortion, and highlighting the right-wing extremism overtaking the Republican Party are all good options.
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