According to a new poll by the San Francisco Standard published on Thursday, voters in the city have moved back towards the center in the past few years following economic toil, massive political changes, rises in crime, and a growing number of homeless in the city.
A revival of tough-on-crime policies by District Attorney Brooke Jenkins has particularly won over many in San Francisco compared to prior policies put in place by recalled DA Chesa Boudin and proposed policies by her main opponent in the DA race John Hamasaki. Jenkins currently holds a 56% approval rating compared to Boudin who under 30% earlier this year in May before the recall election. Also tellingly, Jenkins is currently winning against Hamasaki and fellow opponent Joe Alioto Veronese in polls, holding a double-digit point lead, albeit with over 50% of voters still not knowing who they would vote for.
Jenkins also proved to be one of the only entities and lawmakers in the city who had above a 50% approval rating. The Standard poll showed that Mayor London Breed has only a 36% approval rating compared to 64% disapproval. The Board of Supervisors fared worse, with only 23% of citizens approving of them compared to a whopping 77% disapproval rating. The San Francisco Public School system fared low as well with a 31%-69% approval disapproval split. The only entity to come close to approval was the SFPD, with a 41%-59% split.
SF public schools were particularly shown to be complex. While 69% of citizens disapproved of how they were being run, around 3 out of every 4 parents in the city disapproved of the schools. And these were encouraging numbers, as approval ratings had been even lower earlier this year prior to a school board recall election and subsequent reversal of many policies made under the former board.
Unsurprisingly, San Franciscans said that homelessness and crime were the top two concerns in the city. 63% of those in the city said that City Hall doesn’t know how to solve the homelessness issue, with 71% agreeing that the high number of unhoused people are making the city less safe.
Political reversals begin in SF
The new tough-on-crime prerogatives, some of which have seen judges being stubborn in going along with the new policies, such as a recent incident in which DA Jenkins tried to prosecute drug dealers for murder following drugs that they sold leading to overdoses, have also been seen as more positive. While judges in the city blocked that murder charge policy attempted by Jenkins, 69% of San Francisco citizens now approve of that policy according to the poll. Majority support was also found for forcing repeat drug offenders into treatment, a greater police presence in the city, and requirements for street vendors to have licenses.
Overall, while the poll still found many in the city to still be in favor of progressive and liberal policies that have defined the city for over half a century, commentators noted that the city seemed to have hit a peak in those values in the 2010s when the city was coasting on a roaring tech economy. Now, with crime rising, home prices dropping, and many tech and retail companies either reducing office space or leaving the city outright, many now are beginning to shift in a different direction politically.
“The poll should not come as a surprise to anyone even remotely familiar to the situation of the city,” explained Frank Ma, a former law enforcement official who now works as a security advisor for businesses in San Francisco and cities in the Peninsula, to the Globe on Thursday. “People just got fed up. And now we have a situation where some very liberal people who are lefter than left on some issues are suddenly asking for an expansion of the police or want some people out of office because of the things they did hurting the city or causing crime to go up.”
“We were bound to hit our peak in that regard at some time, but it took a lot of crime, open drug use, and the economy to turn here to finally get people to start fighting back against the endless reforms that only kept hurting the city. I mean, we had two major recalls this year oust very-left people. Many clients I have, who are very liberal and supported people like Boudin, have even asked me about the legality of rounding up homeless people and sending them to other cities like the Florida and Texas Governors have done with illegal immigrants sending them to New York and Massachusetts. There are people I know who marched in the George Floyd rallies and called for police defunding who then had a lot of break ins and are now demanding that the SFPD hire more officers.”
“Simply put, the city went to far. And as the poll shows, more and more in the city are now realizing it. There is still a long way to go for improvement. Very long. But these are some good first steps.”
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