the gallup organization has released its annual crime poll. as of october 4-7, about 71 percent of americans believe that there is more crime in the u.s. today than there had been a year ago.
only about 51 percent believe that crime is up in their area or neighborhood, as people generally believe that the crime situation is better where they live than in the nation as a whole.
such questions usually elicit pessimistic responses, but perceptions over the past few years appear to be growing increasingly out of step with the best available victimization data (see below). gallup researchers offer several explanations, including the following:
Americans’ pessimism about crime may reflect an overly negative interpretation on their part of the fact that the decline in crime has tapered off. It could possibly reflect a real increase in media attention to crime on the local and national news. Or it could reflect Americans’ broader dissatisfaction with the way things are going in the country, a sentiment that extends from ratings of President Bush and Congress to the economy, as well as to their satisfaction with the direction of the country more generally.