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How ‘Defund The Police’ May Have Deflated Democrats’ Chances This Election

(Photo by JAVIER TOVAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Political analysts and commentators got it very wrong this election cycle, predicting not only a blue wave, but anticipating public support for a number of radical policy proposals.

While President-elect Joe Biden won the presidency by a large electoral margin, Democrats didn’t fare too well down-ballot. They narrowly retained their House majority while the Senate appears to be headed toward an even 50-50 split or a slight Republican majority. One possible reason that despite securing the presidency Democrats did poorly down-ballot is the “defund the police” movement.

Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis this May, calls to “defund the police” began echoing across the nation.

While Biden won Minnesota by more than seven percentage points, Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District flipped to red after former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach defeated 30-year Democratic incumbent Collin Peterson. Six state Democratic Senators also lost their races in districts Biden won, with some political strategists blaming the progressive “defund the police” movement.

“It definitely impacted the regional results,” Blois Olson, a communications strategist in Minnesota told The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). “Republicans just hammered Democrats on ‘defund the police.'”

Moderate Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said the movement led to losses during an interview with WAMU, The Hill reported.

“I think … using terms like ‘defund the police’ have led to Democratic losses in this last year,” Warner said, according to the report. Warner said she thought progressive Democrats forget that Democrats in other areas of the nation do represent more moderate voters, including Republican voters.

“I sometimes think our progressive friends don’t have that necessity of running both districts that are quite forward leaning but parts of districts that are still pretty conservative,” Warner said.

Virginia Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger reportedly echoed Warner’s statements during a caucus call with other Democrats.

“We lost races we shouldn’t have lost. Defund police almost cost me my race because of an attack ad,” Spanberger reportedly said. “Don’t say socialism ever again,” she said, adding that the party needs “to get back to basics.”

She also reportedly said that “if we run this race again we will get fucking torn apart again in 2022.”

Moderate Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin expressed his opposition to the movement, as well.

“Defund the police? Defund, my butt. I’m a proud West Virginia Democrat. We are the party of working men and women. We want to protect Americans’ jobs & healthcare. We do not have some crazy socialist agenda, and we do not believe in defunding the police.”

Democratic Majority Whip James Clyburn decried “sloganeering,” noting that the defund the police movement “cost Jamie Harrison” in his attempt to unseat Republican North Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. (RELATED: Defund The Police Movement Helped President Trump In Border Counties, Sheriff Bill Waybourn Says)

“We were not able to discipline ourselves…That phrase ‘defund the police’ cost Jaime Harrison tremendously…Stop sloganeering. Sloganeering kills people. Sloganeering destroys movements,” Clyburn said, according to Axios.

Polls show that while a majority of Americans support reforming the police, a majority do not back the defund movement, according to POLITICO. Attempts to turn the slogan into policy haven’t turned out well, either.

After Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to get rid of the police. Within a month of voting to dismantle the department, Minneapolis began spending $4,500 a day on private security for three city council members who had voted to defund the police after they began receiving threats.

Three months after the vote, city council members began complaining about a “significant increase in extremely dangerous and reckless driving” along with rank-and-file police officers who were “not doing anything to prevent robberies” in one neighborhood.

Nearly six months after declaring that they would dismantle the police department, the city has been forced to bring in officers from nearby jurisdictions to aid the Minneapolis Police Department due to the spike in violent crime.

Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights activist and lawyer in Minneapolis, told the WSJ that the “defund the police” movement doesn’t necessarily help black communities.

“It was a catastrophe,” she said, criticizing city council members for failing to engage with the community. “Within the black community, we don’t have a rallying cry, per se, for no police.” However, Levy Armstrong said she supports shifting some resources around to provide better social services.