Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Defund the Police: The Terrible Idea That Wouldn't Die

While Democratic candidates in races that are even remotely competitive are running as fast as they can away from this genuinely terrible and politically damaging idea, the idea refuses to die. The flickering flame is still nursed by numerous left activists, politicians of the Squad variety, BLM and other advocacy organizations and, of course, the campaign for Question 2 in Minneapolis.
This question, which will be voted on in city elections on November 2, proposes replacing the Minneapolis police department with a Department of Public Safety that would focus less on direct policing and eliminate a city mandate for maintaining a certain level of police staffing. Amid a spike in violent crime in the city and already-plunging police staffing levels, this seems like a tough sell.
However, the ballot question wording is bit hard to parse and its supporters are working hard. Sparse polling indicates that support and opposition are closely divided. Possibly the most fascinating thing about the situation is that, if the question does pass, it will probably be because of white not black support.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune's September poll found whites supporting a significantly paraphrased version of the question by 11 points, while blacks opposed it by 5 points. In the same poll, black Minneapolis voters thunderously rejected the idea of reducing the size of the city's police force by 75 percent-14 percent, compared to the more modest 51-3argin among whites.
Similarly, black Minneapolis voters believe by 68-13 that reducing the size of the police force would have a negative, rather than positive, effect on public safety compared to a 52-21 margin among whites.
Finally, a recent ALG poll has current mayor Jacob Frey, who opposes Question 2, far ahead of second place candidate, Ilhan Omar-endorsed and Question 2-supporting Sheila Nezhad. Frey is particularly strong among black voters, who give him 58 percent of their first place votes in Minneapolis' ranked choice system.
It seems very likely that if Question 2 passes, it will against the wishes of the city's black voters. That's something to think about.

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