Californians’ perception of crime spiked during the pandemic—as did certain types of crime. As voters head to the polls this November, concerns about crime could play a key role—especially in local races and in congressional races that could determine the makeup of the US House of Representatives.
Our latest PPIC Statewide Survey finds that nearly two in three Californians call violence and street crime in their local community a problem. This includes 31% who call them a big problem, a noticeable increase from February 2020 (24%).
The perception that violence and street crime are a big problem is widely held. About a third of Californians across the state’s regions hold this view—except in Orange/San Diego where just 16% do so. Views vary across racial/ethnic groups, with Africans Americans the most likely to view crime as a big problem. Notably, women (36%) are more likely than men (25%) to hold this view. And Republicans (40%) are much more likely than independents (27%) and Democrats (26%) to say crime is a big problem.
Have things gotten worse? More than half of Californians say that crime in their local community has stayed about the same in the last 12 months. Four in ten Californians think that it has increased; few think that it has decreased. About half of Californians across the state’s regions say crime is about the same compared to a year ago—except in Orange/San Diego where residents are more likely than others to hold this view.
There are notable differences across demographic groups. Asian Americans and whites are more likely than African Americans and Latinos to say that crime has stayed about the same in the last 12 months. The perception that crime has stayed about the same is higher among men (59%) than women (47%).
There is a wide partisan divide on this issue, with fewer Republicans (38%) than Democrats (60%) and independents (53%) saying that crime in their local community has stayed the same over the last year. In fact, 60% of Republicans say that it has increased in the last 12 months.
With concerns about crime riding high, the role this issue may play in state and local elections this year continues to be pertinent. The PPIC Statewide Survey will continue to track perceptions and trends on this critical topic.