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Democratic Firms Release Poll-Report Outlining Way for Democrats to Lead on Public Safety and Navigate Crime Issues Ahead of Midterms

Report Includes Poll Showing 62 percent of Americans Support Safety Funding Alternatives Over Maximizing Funding for Police  

Washington, D.C. | Oct. 17  – A report released today by HIT Strategies and Change Research provides Democrats a messaging pathway to lead on public safety and navigate crime issues ahead of the midterms. The expansive report incorporates a review of existing research and includes a baseline poll, six focus groups, and two subsequent messaging polls to support a tested and comprehensive message to reimagine public safety. The baseline poll shows that 62% of Americans prefer public safety funding alternatives over maximizing funding to police departments.   

“Many Americans know that police can’t solve every problem and understand the need to invest in solutions that address the root cause of crime,” said Roshni Nedungadi, a founding partner at HIT Strategies. “Advocates for reimagining public safety should focus their messaging on solutions like funding social services and community safety as well as ending the over-reliance on police to solve all safety issues.” 

Summary of Key Takeaways 

  1. A majority (62%) of Americans prefer funding alternatives to police over maximizing funding for police departments. 
    60% would prefer an alternative first responder instead of a police officer for substance abuse episodes. 
    65% would prefer an alternative first responder instead of a police officer to respond to a homeless encampment.  
    75% would prefer an alternative first responder instead of a police officer to respond to mental or emotional distress episodes. 
  2. A broad message can reach both progressive and persuadable voters. HIT and Change’s message focuses on proposed solutions—alternative first responders and funding social services—rather than criticizing the police.  
  1. While a majority of Americans trust the police to keep them safe, there are large gaps among racial groups. For example, almost 1 in 2 Black Americans do not express trust in the police.  
  1. Young people (18-49), Black people, and Latinx women are the groups most supportive of reallocating money away from police budgets and towards prevention and alternatives. 
  1. The best messaging: 
    Center the community and the solution, not the conflict.
    Talk about what does keep communities safe and articulate a positive vision for community safety. 

    Call out our reliance on the police to solve every problem.
    Let’s end our over-reliance on police to fix problems that shouldn’t be their job to handle in the first place by funding better-suited first responders for certain emergencies.

    Argue for “common sense” solutions.
    For example, “It’s just common sense that police are not the right answer to every single problem.”

    Call for prevention instead of punishment when combating the “crime rising” narrative.
    “If we want to actually protect people, and not just posture and signal about being tough on crime, we have to think about prevention, not punishment. We have to address the reasons for these problems instead of spending limited city budgets on flooding the streets with cops.”

Change Research and HIT Strategies conducted a four-stage research project from September 2021 through March 2022 to gauge public opinion on policy proposals to reimagine public safety. We conducted a landscape review of existing research, one baseline poll, six focus groups, and two subsequent messaging polls. The polls were conducted with nationally representative samples. The focus groups were segmented into both base supporters (strongly support “defund”) and moderates (neither strongly opposed nor in favor of “defund”). 

About HIT Strategies    
As Washington’s leading millennial and minority-owned public opinion research company, HIT Strategies helps progressive leaders and organizationstranslate the values and attitudes of target audiences into real-time insights. We understand America’s fastest-growing electorate and consumer groups and specialize in targeting communities under-represented in public opinion, including Black Americans, Latino Americans, Millennials + Genz, LGBTQ+, Women, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders. Visit and follow @HITStrat on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more information.  

About Change Research 
Change Research provides fast, affordable, and accurate technology-based polling across the country. Change Research’s methodology combines the best elements of different polling approaches through the use of its unique online survey technology (Dynamic Online Sampling) and text-to-web polling. Since its founding in 2017, Change Research has conducted over 2,000 polls for candidates, media organizations, and causes at all levels, surveying nearly 3 million people. 


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