When you think of partisan activist organizations, you probably don’t think first of Third Way. After all, the group isn’t overly well-known in most circles.
However, the group recently published a “study” that tries to claim that red states are more violent than blue ones.
Of course, Democrats have tripped over themselves to applaud this one but most other people just rolled their eyes. Which is probably why the group’s director is still trying to push it.
For the last two years, the nation has been awash in news accounts about soaring violent crime and murder in cities and states run by Democrats. That narrative is ubiquitous, particularly in conservative media, where Democratic mayors are routinely called out and excoriated for turning a blind eye to crime. That story is half right and half — to be charitable — lazy and wrong.
Let’s dispatch with the part that is correct. We have a murder problem in America, with homicides up sharply in recent years reversing long-term trends. In addition, many cities with Democratic mayors and governors have experienced dramatic murder spikes.
Now, for the rest of the story. In a report Third Way recently released, we found that murder was much more prevalent in red states than blue states. That’s right. In 2020, homicide rates were a stunning 40 percent higher in the 25 states that former President Donald Trump won compared to the 25 won by current President Joe Biden. Of the 10 states with the highest 2020 per capita murder rates in America, eight of them not only voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, they voted Republican in every presidential election this century.
Oh, well, what can you do?
Well, let’s start by arguing as if this were completely and totally true–it’s not necessarily, and we’ll get into that in a minute.
First, violence and violent crime is complex as are the factors that go into who votes which way. To simply link the two together, especially when it’s clear you’re hoping to deflect the blame for the dangerous conditions of Democrat-controlled cities, is just lazy.
Then there’s the simple fact that it’s not really accurate.
When this report first came out, Cam took a look at it. He found that on the list of most violent cities–a list compiled by Everytown for Gun Safety–and found that more cities in blue states topped the list than cities in Trump states.
By contrast, in the cities were violence went down? Just two of the seven were cities in blue states.
Then, as Cam notes, there’s the curious way Third Way compiled their data.
This once again refutes the idea that the rise in homicides is a “red state problem” as Third Way so desperately insists. Again, most of the country saw an increase in homicides, regardless of the presidential vote. And two states made both lists; California and Texas. Those states have diametrically opposed gun laws, but gun homicides spiked in Lubbock in 2020 just like they did in Fresno and Vallejo, California, and they plunged in El Paso as well as Long Beach, California.
You simply can’t read too much into one year’s crime statistics, but 2019 and 2020 are the only years that Third Way considered.
We found that murder rates are, on average, 40% 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. And not a single one of the top 10 murder states registers in the top 15 for population density.
Whether one does or does not blame Republican leaders for high murder rates, it seems that Republican officeholders do a better job of blaming Democrats for lethal crime than actually reducing lethal crime.
That’s the gist of Third Way’s argument: Republicans suck at fighting crime. And the reason why Third Way is putting this out there is because poll after poll shows Republicans with an edge over Democrats on the issue of “gun policy” and “crime”; the latter of which is a major concern for a lot of voters, including those who say they always vote for the Democrat on the ballot, but who may simply decide to stay home on Election Day this year.
In other words, what we’re looking at is nothing but partisan hackery. Democrats are set to lose and lose big, primarily because of violent crime, so Third Way is trying to ride to the rescue with a “study” that’s curiously narrow in focus and at a time when violent crime is rising damn near everywhere.
Now, understand that I don’t think that every study I dislike the outcome of is hackery. Yet when you narrow your focus and ignore any other data to present correlation as if it’s causation, the only possible explanation is that you’re either too stupid to do actual research or hackery.
I’m trying to give Third Way the benefit of the doubt here, though they’re not making it easy.