The big question was whether the post-Covid surge in crime would, like the post-Covid surge in inflation, prove transitory. Would crime keep rising, or would it subside back to relatively low levels?

Well, the answer appears to be in, and it’s encouraging. Murders dropped significantly in 2022, and so far seem to be falling even faster this year. Take the example of New York City, which had 319 murders in 2019 — down from 2,262 in 1990! — but saw that total rise to 488 in 2021. If trends this year continue, the number of murders in 2023 will probably be under 400, much of the way back to the low crime rates of the 2010s.

I should acknowledge that while violent crime is clearly on the downswing, some forms of property crime are still running high. Many pharmacies in New York and other cities, concerned about theft, now keep their products locked behind glass, which isn’t scary but is annoying. Still, America is clearly getting safer again, and is much safer than it was two decades ago.

But if history is any guide, most voters won’t believe it. Politicians will run campaigns promising to defend Americans against a terrifying crime wave, even as crime is receding nationwide.

Wait, there’s more. In addition to having false beliefs about trends in crime over time, many Americans have false beliefs about the geography of crime. In particular, Republicans often treat it as an established fact that blue states, and especially cities run by Democrats, have higher crime rates than red states and cities, with New York singled out for special opprobrium. Back in April, the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee held a “field hearing” on “victims of violent crime in Manhattan.”



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