Correlations between Politics and Violent Crime

According to The Economist, citing a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the following are the 10 most conservative and liberal cities (with populations greater than 250,000 people) in America:

Most conservative:

1. Mesa, AZ

2. Oklahoma City, OK

3. Virginia Beach, VA

4. Colorado Springs, CO

5. Jacksonville, FL

6. Arlington, TX

7. Anaheim, CA

8. Omaha, NE

9. Tulsa, OK

10. Aurora, CO

Most liberal:

1. San Francisco, CA

2. Washington, DC

3. Seattle, WA

4. Oakland, CA

5. Boston, MA

6. Minneapolis, MN

7. Detroit, MI

8. New York, NY

9. Buffalo, NY

10. Baltimore, MD

Some of the cities that made this list may surprise you; others may not.  In any event, let us now take a look at these same cities coupled with Federal Bureau of Investigation-compiled violent crime rate statistics for the year 2014:

(The first figure represents overall violent crime rate, per 100,000 people; the second represents murder/non-negligent manslaughter (NNM) rate, per 100,000 people)

1. Mesa, AZ (458.6; 2.8)

2. Oklahoma City, OK (773.8; 7.3)

3. Virginia Beach, VA (146.3; 3.8)

4. Colorado Springs, CO (458.3; 4.5)

5. Jacksonville, FL (683.7; 11.2)

6. Arlington, TX (484.1; 3.4)

7. Anaheim, CA (317.3; 4.0)

8. Omaha, NE (560.6; 7.3)

9. Tulsa, OK (805.1; 11.5)

10. Aurora, CO (412.6; 3.1)

Most liberal:

1. San Francisco, CA (795.1; 5.3)

2. Washington, DC (1185.3; 15.9)

3. Seattle, WA (603.1; 3.9)

4. Oakland, CA (1685.4; 19.5)

5. Boston, MA (725.7; 8.1)

6. Minneapolis, MN (1012.0; 7.7)

7. Detroit, MI (1988.6; 43.5)

8. New York, NY (596.7; 3.9)

9. Buffalo, NY (1228.2; 23.2)

10. Baltimore, MD (1338.5; 33.8)

Again, some of these data may surprise you, but even a cursory glance illuminates a striking difference between these two lists.  New York is a comparatively safe city, but is also a striking anomaly for its list, as are Jacksonville and Tulsa, with respect to theirs.

The 2014 national averages for violent crime and murder/non-negligent manslaughter rates in America per 100,000 people were 365.5 and 4.5, respectively.  Both sets of cities, on average, significantly exceed these figures.  The 10 conservative cities are nearly 1.5 more violent than the national average (with an average 510 overall violent crime rate) and 1.3 times more deadly (with an average 5.9 murder/NNM rate).  By comparison, however, the liberal cities take the cake: you are over three times as likely to be a victim of violent crime in one of the most liberal cities (average 1115.9 overall violent crime rate) and over 3 and a half times as likely to die from this violence (average 16.5 murder/NNM rate).

Clearly a correlation exists between political ideology and violent crime in American cities representing the two political extremes.  The only meaningful question, however, is what – if anything – this correlation tells us.  Does the correlation say anything about the respective economic policies involved, or about differences between firearms regulation in these locations?  Does the correlation reflect anything substantive about the various demographic makeups?  Is there something altogether different to be gleaned from this data?  Or, perhaps, does the correlation tell us nothing at all and is thusly a simple byproduct of coincidence?

Ultimately, I leave it to the reader to decide.

UPDATE (22 November 2016):  It appears at least some additional socioeconomic correlative evidence exists to support these relationships:



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  1. #1 by ecd1948 on January 13, 2016 - 7:45 PM

    I agree. Intriguing data. And, like you, I wonder at its significance. Hope someone, somewhere is exploring this in greater depth.

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