Looking at Politics and Murder in Chicago

Republicans love to trot out Chicago as the center piece of their “Democrats are soft on crime” argument, pointing to Chicago as an example of Obama’s “failed leadership”. But is it true?

It seems absurd to even be drilling down to crime statistics in individual cities to cite the effectiveness of a President. Presidents are elected to the task of managing the affairs of the country on a grander scale, leaving management of cities and states to their mayors and governors.

If we count only through the first seven years of each presidency (the only full data that’s available), one will find that under the Presidency of George W. Bush, there were an average of 535 murders per year in Chicago, compared to 458 per year during the Obama presidency. That, too, should destroy the basis for blaming the homicide problem at Obama’s feet.

But lets dig deeper.

Jim Edgar (a Republican) served as Governor of Illinois from 1991 through 1999. The year before he took office, 849 murders were committed in Chicago. 1991 saw 922 more murders, followed by  940 in 1992. It did get better though, and Chicago suffered only 698 murders in 1998, Edgars’ final year in office.

George Ryan (Republican) followed, serving as Governor from 1999 to 2000. In his first year in office, Chicago had 643 murders and by 656 in his 2002 (his last year in office).

Rod Blagojevich (Democrat) took office in 2003, Chicago had 601 murders, a number which fell to 451 in 2005, before rebounding to 513 in his final year in office before his impeachment for unrelated matters.

Blagojevich was followed by another Democrat, Pat Quinn, who saw Chicago experience 459 murders in his first year in office (2009), and 432 in his last (2014).

Bruce Rauner (Republican) took the helm in 2015 and saw the murder rate jump to 488 in 2015, and with 450 more as of August 15, 2016,  the city is on track to reach 720 murders for the year at its present rate.

Below is a table, sorted by number of murders in Chicago each year from 1991 through 2016 (extrapolating the current years numbers through the end of the year), color coded by the party who held the office of Governor:

Year Governor Party Murders
1992 Jim Edgar Republican 943
1994 Jim Edgar Republican 931
1991 Jim Edgar Republican 928
1993 Jim Edgar Republican 855
1995 Jim Edgar Republican 828
1996 Jim Edgar Republican 796
1997 Jim Edgar Republican 761
2016 (E) Bruce Rauner Republican 720
1998 Jim Edgar Republican 704
2001 George Ryan Republican 667
2002 George Ryan Republican 656
1999 George Ryan Republican 643
2000 George Ryan Republican 633
2003 Rod Blagojeich Democrat 601
2012 Pat Quinn Democrat 516
2008 Rod Blagojeich Democrat 513
2015 Bruce Rauner Republican 488
2006 Rod Blagojeich Democrat 471
2009 Pat Quinn Democrat 459
2004 Rod Blagojeich Democrat 453
2005 Rod Blagojeich Democrat 451
2007 Rod Blagojeich Democrat 448
2013 Pat Quinn Democrat 441
2010 Pat Quinn Democrat 436
2011 Pat Quinn Democrat 435
2014 Pat Quinn Democrat 432

What’s it mean? Republicans would do well to shut up about the politics of murder in Chicago. Meanwhile, as the violence rages on, one thing that is abundantly clear is that Republicans continue to impede any effort to stem the steady flow of guns onto city streets.


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