Thanks to the willful exaggerations of Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Tucker Carlson, and the whole gang at Fox News and Newsmax, Republican-leaning voters are far more scared to visit San Francisco right now than Democrats.
A new Gallup poll finds that 74% of those surveyed who say they are Democrats or Democrat-leaning Independents think that San Francisco is still safe to live in or visit. Compare that to just 32% of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters who say the same thing.
Those other 68% of Republican voters have clearly bought the narrative of SF's demise, and while we would appreciate their tourist and convention dollars, they can also just fuck off to Nashville or Dallas or wherever until their cousin on Facebook tells them "Oh, San Francisco is just fine."
This vilifying of cities, and the project of convincing rural and suburban voters that the Democrats who run those cities are handing out fentanyl and destroying America, appears to be working, at least for Republican voters in red states. And it certainly doesn't help that recent "doom loop" coverage has gotten CNN and Good Morning America in on the game too.
Gallup found double-digit differences among partisans when it comes to the perception of safety in 14 out 16 cities that were asked about on the survey. And the polling outfit notes that this is a significant change since the last time they did this poll 17 years ago, in less starkly partisan times.
72% of respondents overall still believe Dallas and Boston are "safe" cities, while large numbers of both Democrats and Republicans believe that Chicago and Detroit are "unsafe."
San Francisco is in the middle of the pack, with the overall poll finding 52% still think the city is safe, and 46% saying it's not.
You can see on the chart, surprisingly, San Francisco comes out better than LA or New York in the poll, though you wouldn't know that from the outsized amount of national coverage SF's crime problems have gotten in the last year or two.
It should be noted, too, that Democratic voters are probably more likely to have lived in, or to be currently living in, an actual city with actual city problems, so they're not irrationally scared because of some news coverage.
Cities with violent crime rates that are far and away higher than San Francisco's, like Memphis and St. Louis, were not included in the Gallup poll — you'll see that neither SF, LA, nor New York City appear on this recent chart of violent crime rates per capita.
The partisan differences are stark, and they've also changed greatly over the last two decades where SF and Chicago are concerned. Gallup has done this poll seven times since 1990, but the last time all of these cities were included was in 2006.
Seattle and Minneapolis have also become less safe in the minds of many — perhaps partly because of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the many protests that followed.
"While Dallas and Boston have consistently enjoyed majority-level safe ratings throughout Gallup’s trends, Chicago has not since the early 2000s, and Detroit has never been considered safe by a majority," Gallup says.
And, they add, "Perceptions of city safety are heavily influenced by partisanship, which was not a factor in 2006."
Still, the practice of shitting on San Francisco for sport among Republican politicians goes back four decades or more, as Dianne Feinstein can surely tell you (on a good Dianne day).
Photo: Jose M/Unsplash