Aug 23, 2023 - News

Most Americans view D.C. as a safe city, new poll shows

Data: Gallup. Note: Each city is rated by half of the sample. Chart: Axios Visuals

Slightly more than half of Americans view D.C. as a safe city, per a new Gallup poll — the first time a majority of the poll's respondents have rated Washington as safe to live in or visit.

Why it matters: The safe perception of the nation's capital comes as the city is on pace for its deadliest year in two decades, which has spurred congressional intervention over the city's handling of violence.

By the numbers: D.C. is among the safest 16 U.S. cities in Gallup's poll from July, on par with San Francisco.

  • Unlike San Francisco, D.C.'s perception has improved greatly since 2006, when only 35% of Americans thought D.C. was safe to live in or visit. (SF polled 70% in 2006.)
  • The District shed its image of "Dodge City" after homicides peaked in the early 1990s at more than 500 a year.
  • Washington is up 30 percentage points since 1990.

Yes, but: There's a large partisan gap, surprise.

  • 72% of Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents believe D.C. is safe.
  • Less than a third from across the aisle agree.

What they're saying: "Perceptions of city safety are heavily influenced by partisanship, which was not a factor in 2006," Gallup says.

Flashback: In March, Republicans blasted D.C. leaders for a "crime crisis," painting the Democratic-run city as mismanaged and clashing with local Democrats who have long sought statehood.

  • Congress blocked changes to Washington's criminal code that would have reduced penalties for some violent crimes, marking the first time since 1991 that Congress approved overturning local legislation.
  • President Biden and many Democrats sided with Republicans to appear tough on crime.

What we're watching: D.C. is focused on recruiting new police officers as the force reaches a recent low in numbers.

A youth curfew will be enforced in several areas, including in nightlife zones and places with high crime.


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