The crime issue in the 2022 elections in Kansas
The ongoing national crime wave that began in the last few months of 2019 is not limited to the nation's big cities – it is affecting states like Kansas as well. Specifically, in 2020, there were 193 homicides in the state of Kansas – there had been 130 in 2019. In the 10 years leading up to 2019, there had been an average of 127 homicides a year in Kansas.
This surge in violence has put the crime issue back on the political agenda. Polls in 2020 and 2021 have shown that a high percentage of the public lists crime as a major issue that they will be voting on.
As to how this crime issue will impact the 2022 elections in Kansas, let me draw on the analysis of that well-known student of politics, Mr. Mark Shields. Mr. Shields has correctly noted that in American politics, we have a Mommy Party and a Daddy Party – with the Democrats being the Mommy Party and the Republicans being the Daddy Party. By this, he meant that when the issues that the public is concerned about are education, health care and the economy, the Democrats win elections, and when the issues are war and peace, crime and civil disorder, the Republicans win elections.
The historical record bears Mr. Shields out. In 2020, the U.S. saw a 25% increase in homicides over the 2019 levels. That was the largest one-year increase in homicides since the FBI began keeping national records back in 1930. The previous largest one-year record increase was in 1968, when homicides increased 13%. And, not coincidentally, the GOP went on to win five of the six presidential elections in 1968-1988.
The surge in crime in Kansas and across the nation does not guarantee a GOP wave in Kansas in 2022. Kansas voters care about a number of other issues as well, and concern for these other issues may outweigh their concerns about crime. But if this crime surge continues, as it shows every sign of doing, it will be a definite help to Republican electoral prospects in Kansas in 2022.
Ernest Evans is a Leavenworth Times columnist.