(NEW YORK) — The number of Americans seeing crime as an extremely serious problem in the United States is at a more than 20-year high, President Joe Biden is underwater in trust to handle it and broad majorities in an ABC News/Washington Post poll favor alternative crime-fighting strategies to address it.
A sweeping 75% in the national survey said violent crime would be reduced by increasing funding to build economic opportunities in poor communities. Sixty-five percent said the same about using social workers to help police defuse situations with people having emotional problems.
These measures, aimed at underlying causes of crime, are most apt to have been seen as effective, by substantial margins, of five that were tested. Among the others, 55% think increasing funding for police departments would reduce violent crime, 51% say the same about stricter enforcement of existing gun laws and 46% say so about stricter gun-control laws.
Broad support for alternative anti-crime measures comes against a backdrop of heightened high-level concern. Twenty-eight percent of Americans see crime in the United States as an extremely serious problem, a relatively small group but the most to hold this view compared to nearly annual polls by Gallup from 2000 to 2020. The average across those previous polls is 19%.
Views of crime in the country as a high-level problem expand to 59% when including those who see it as very serious, not just extremely serious. As typically is the case, far fewer, 17%, see crime as an extremely or very serious problem in the area where they live, though this is at a numerical high — by a single percentage point — compared to Gallup polls since 2000.
This poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, finds a troubling difference in the experience of crime along racial and ethnic lines. While 13% of white people and 17% of Hispanic people call crime an extremely or very serious problem in the area where they live, this jumps to 31% among Black people.
Politically, just 38% of adults overall approve of how Biden is handling the issue of crime in this country, with 48% disapproving. That said, Americans divide almost exactly evenly on which political party they trust more to handle crime — 36% pick the Republicans, 35% the Democrats, about the average difference between the parties on this question in polls going back to 1990. Twenty percent volunteered that they don’t trust either party on crime.
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