Donald Trump on Monday continued his clumsy efforts to appeal to black voters, tweeting a false claim about “inner-city” crime nearing record highs.
As his campaign again attempts to right itself after plummeting in the polls, Trump has argued that black voters should support him because Democratic policies have failed their communities. He’s largely relied on stereotypes and generalizations to make his case, and it hasn’t been especially effective: Trump’s support among black voters continues to hover in the single digits.
Still, Trump is sticking to this approach even as it alienates the people he’s ostensibly trying to attract. Last week, Nykea Aldridge, cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade, was shot and killed in Chicago. Trump’s reaction to the death of Aldridge, a mother of four, was to brag that it proved him right about unsafe cities, and to seize on it as evidence that “African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!” Not even Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, could defend that statement.
On Monday, Trump fired off several tweets about crime in cities, again leaning heavily on stereotypes and dubious claims:
There’s a problem with Trump’s claims, though: Violent crime is on the decline nationally, having hit its lowest point in decades in 2014. And while some cities saw upticks in the homicide rate in 2015 from the previous year, the overall trend in most cities is still downward. Year-over-year changes don’t really give you the whole picture.
In New York City, for example, there were 350 homicides in 2015 versus 333 in 2014. But that’s nowhere near the city’s peak. In 1990, 2,245 people were killed in New York City. Something similar is happening in Chicago, where the murder rate fell dramatically from the 1990s to the mid-2000s. There are, of course, exceptions ― 2015 was Baltimore’s deadliest year on record, with 344 homicides.
A Brennan Center for Justice analysis of America’s 30 largest cities found that while the homicide rate did rise in 19 of those cities between 2014 and 2015, the overall number of homicides is relatively low compared to the 1990s.
“Murder rates are so low that a small numerical increase can lead to a large percentage change,” reads the report. “Murder rates vary widely from year to year, and there is little evidence of a national coming wave in violent crime.”