Web Analytics Made Easy -
StatCounter
Crime and Presidential Accountability: A Case of Racially Conditioned Issue Ownership | Andrew Reeves

Crime and Presidential Accountability: A Case of Racially Conditioned Issue Ownership

Abstract

Americans are anxious about crime regardless of their actual exposure or risk. Given this pervasive concern, US presidents frequently talk about crime, take actions to address it, and list crime prevention efforts among their top accomplishments. We argue that presidents act this way, in part, because fear of crime translates into a penalty on presidential approval. However, this penalty is not applied evenly. We contend that there is a racial component to this fear. Given the parties’ stances toward crime and the criminal justice system, Whites will only punish Democratic presidents (i.e., Clinton and Obama) when they are anxious about crime, while Blacks will only punish Republican presidents (i.e., Bush and Trump). We examine twenty years of survey data and find evidence consistent with our theory. Our results suggest that the relationship between fear of crime and presidential accountability is conditioned by an individual’s race and the president’s party.