Monday, September 14, 2020

'Law and Order' emerges as important campaign issue

COVID 19 seems to be the crucial issue in the 2020 presidential election. But the other issue that’s dominated the news in recent months — the combination of police violence, racial injustice, peaceful protests and rising crime in many cities — is gaining traction and is more politically complicated, reported the New York Times. It has the potential to hurt both Trump and Biden, in different ways. And so far, Biden has not managed to send voters a persuasive message that protects his vulnerabilities.

Perhaps the most surprising finding from the poll was this: In the four swing states — Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire and Wisconsin — a larger share of voters said “addressing law and order” was a more important campaign issue to them than said “addressing the coronavirus pandemic” was.

On first glance, these law-and-order concerns may still seem to help Biden. More voters trust him to do a better job on several related issues — including violent crime, unifying the country and handling the protests — than trust Trump. But it’s not quite that simple.

Remember: Most Americans have already made up their minds about the election. Their answers to poll questions about which candidate they trust on specific issues are almost meaningless at this point. The bigger issue is how undecided and uncommitted voters feel.

Biden’s problem is that, on the broad issues of crime and policing, he appears to have a larger group of soft supporters — people who could flip — than Trump does. As Nate Cohn, a Times reporter who helped oversee the poll, told me, “There is definitely some Biden support with worry about crime.” Those worries span Black, Latino and white voters.

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