Americans perceive a plethora of troubling trends in the U.S., but they are particularly worried about the recent upsurge in violent crime rates across the nation. That’s the message sent by this month’s national I&I/TIPP Poll.
While crime was the top concern, Americans’ anxieties appear to be broadly spread out, with no single issue looming large among their biggest fears.
The I&I/TIPP poll asked people “Which of the following is the biggest threat to the country,” followed by nine possible answers. Among the possible “biggest threats,” just four were able to break into double-digits: The aforementioned issue of “violent crime” (17%), “right-wing terrorists” (14%), “China” (13%), and “rising inflation” (12%).
All the rest — “deteriorating race relations” (9%), “attacks on free speech” (9%), “critical race theory” (7%), “cancel culture” (5%), and “big tech” (3%) — all garnered single-digit mentions in the survey. The third-largest category, at 12%, was “not sure.”
The poll, conducted by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, is part of an ongoing monthly effort by Issues & Insights and our polling partner to gauge Americans’ beliefs about key issues. The August poll was conducted online from July 28 to July 30 and included responses from 1,322 adults. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 points.
What to make of such a flat dispersion of opinion on so many topics?
For one, far from being a comforting sign that Americans aren’t fearful, it illustrates that they have many things that now preoccupy them.
The sudden emergence of crime and inflation, for instance, as key concerns show how quickly government policies, ranging from the coronavirus to law enforcement, can have a major effect on public opinion.
In the case of violent crime, a year-and-a-half of “Defund the Police” followed by actual budget cuts for police forces has been accompanied by an upsurge in violent crime, especially murder, and crime’s emergence as a renewed concern for many Americans.
In a 2019 Pew Research survey, for instance, before last year’s BLM-Antifa-Defund the Police movement swept major American cities, crime ranked 11th out of 18 major concerns for Americans. Today, as the I&I/TIPP Poll shows, it’s No. 1.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the groups that have the highest levels of crime victimization are most likely to call it the most serious threat. That would be Blacks and Hispanics, at 22%, and women, at 20%. That’s higher than Whites (16%), Democrats (18%), Republicans (16%), and Independents (17%).
As for inflation, it’s surging as Congress pushes record amounts of new spending and the economy experiences tight supply bottlenecks due to COVID-19 lockdowns. It’s also being propelled by the Fed’s super-easy monetary policy.
What about the No. 2 item? “Right-wing terrorists?” It has been a non-stop topic in the mainstream media since the Jan. 6 Capitol unrest, which got spun as an “insurrection” in some media outlets and by the Democratic Party.
In our poll, it received 14%. So, are Americans really concerned about that?
Certainly, some are. But a look at the data shows that it’s mainly Democrats. Some 22% of them called “right-wing terrorists” the nation’s top threat, ahead of the 18% of Democrats who said crime was the biggest issue.
Among Republicans, just 5% called “right-wing terrorists” the biggest threat. Independents, 12%.
The media-driven “right-wing terrorist” meme may soon begin to shrivel after Reuters reported on Friday that the FBI had “found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result.”
Finally, China, named as the No. 3 threat at 13%, had what for some might seem a predictable political profile for its support: Both Democrats (10%) and Independents (11%) rated the threat from China far lower than the Republicans at 21%.
That latter number may in part be a residual of President Donald Trump’s battles with China over trade, tariffs, and alleged espionage during his time in the White House. Under Trump, the Republican Party retreated somewhat from its traditional support of freer trade as U.S. conflicts with China have multiplied.
Among those clashes is Beijing’s massive global Belt-and-Road project, intended to help China displace the U.S. as the world’s No. 1 economic power. Another is its escalating military threat to neighboring Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines, as well as others.
Germany's chancellor met with the Ukrainian president as the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline complicates relations.
The $12-billion pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea is set to double Russian natural gas shipments to Germany, Europe's largest economy. It avoids Ukraine, depriving Kyiv of essential gas transit fees.
Moscow's current agreement with Kyiv runs out in 2024, and the lack of transit fees would likely cause significant economic problems for Ukraine.
Germany had made commitments to support Ukraine to renew its energy mix and will support the development of renewable projects with a total of €1 billion ($1.2 billion) via bilateral projects.
Iran's frozen money was another issue addressed in the meeting between Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Iranian officials.
The newly elected president (Raisi) told him Iran remained committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal is known, which the United States unilaterally abandoned in 2018, imposing sanctions.
"The Americans must answer to the world's public opinion why they did not implement their commitments under the JCPOA and exited this international accord," Raisi said, while also stressing Iran is not against negotiations.
Representatives from Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, the European Union, and the US are soon expected to return to Vienna to continue talks on restoring the deal.
Ahmad Massoud, leader of Afghanistan's last major outpost of anti-Taliban resistance, said he hoped to hold peaceful talks with the Islamist movement.
"We want to make the Taliban realize that the only way forward is through negotiation," he told Reuters by telephone from his stronghold in the Panjshir valley northwest of Kabul.
The comments came as a statement on the Taliban's Alemarah Twitter feed said hundreds of fighters were heading towards Panjshir "after local state officials refused to hand it over peacefully."
In the only confirmed fighting since the fall of Kabul on Sunday, anti-Taliban forces took back three districts in the northern province of Baghlan, bordering Panjshir last week.
Massoud called for an inclusive, broad-based government in Kabul representing all of Afghanistan's different ethnic groups and said a "totalitarian regime" should not be recognized.
Sri Lanka will issue captive elephants with their own biometric identity cards and ban their riders from drinking on the job.
Many rich Sri Lankans - including Buddhist monks - keep elephants as pets to show off their wealth, but complaints of ill-treatment and cruelty are widespread.
The new measures are aimed at protecting the animals' welfare and include strict regulations around working elephants, as well as mandating a daily two-and-a-half-hour bath for each creature.
Official records show there are about 200 domesticated elephants in the South Asian nation, with the population in the wild estimated at about 7,500.
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