Was Trump correct that the Democrats controlled the most Dangerous Cities?

Jun 30, 2020 | Fact Check

“You hear about certain places like Chicago and you hear about what’s going on in Detroit and other — other cities, all Democrat run. Every one of them is Democrat run. Twenty out of twenty. The 20 worst, the 20 most dangerous are Democrat run.”

Donald Trump, “Remarks by President Trump and President Duda of the Republic of Poland in Joint Press Conference,” The White House, June 24, 2020.

This statement by Trump has been repeated many times. Here is a simple chart showing the political party of the mayor for the 30 cities with the highest murder rates in 2018. Twenty-eight of those cities are controlled by Democrats, and two are non-partisan. But while the two cities in North Carolina have non-partisan elections, both Goldboro and Salisbury tend to vote for Democrats.

Washington Post’s Philip Bump dismisses Trump’s entire point, saying that it “doesn’t really matter” because cities “generally have more crime than suburban and rural areas.” But if you look at the twenty most populous cities, Republicans run four and Democrats run 16. The Republican cities are much safer. In 2018, the violent crime rate was 72% higher in Democrat-run cities, and the murder rate was 83% higher.

Even once you move out of the very largest cities, the results are the same. Of the 50 largest cities, Republicans control 13 and Democrats 37. Democrat run cities have a 74% higher violent crime rate and a 109% higher murder rate. Crime data wasn’t reported for two of the Democrat controlled cities.

Washington Post’s Philip Bump first relies on total violent crimes to evaluate Trump’s statements. But It doesn’t make sense to compare the number of murders in New York City with the total in, say, Washington, DC. New York, after all, has a much larger population. In his evaluation of violent crime rates, the one city that he claims is run by an independent (Springfield, Missouri), has non-partisan races. The city nonetheless leans towards Democrats in the behavior of its voters.



  1. Charles Jessee

    On the other hand, “The Mayor” appears to be chosen by a very slim measure of the eligible voters in major cities. “Fewer than one in five eligible residents in Los Angeles vote in mayoral elections. In New York City, that figure falls to less than 14 percent. In fact, in 15 of the 30 most populous cities in the U.S., voter turnout in mayoral elections is less than 20 percent.” On the other hand, those major cities voted heavily Democratic. So it may be more the voters and the policies they support than the Mayor. But that gets circular…



  2. Blaine Nay

    I wonder if this is a chicken vs egg problem.

    Are high-crime cities high-crime because they’re run by Democrats or,
    Do they vote Democrat because they are high-crime?

    • Rachel

      Interesting question and worth considering. There may be some of both, though I suspect it is more the former. My perspective is based on several cases where high crime rates have motivated the election of a Republican politician with a “tough on crime” platform, and then crime drops and that same city starts voting Democratic again.