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President Donald Trump speaking at the Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach, FL, December 21, 2019. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Crime, Campus Chaos, and the Verdict

It is worth noting that every poll has economy/inflation as the dominant issues with immigration second

By Wayne Avrashow, June 15, 2024 3:45 am

Following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, calls to defund the police and the meaning of criminal justice dominated the nation’s political dialogue. This year, public sentiment on crime appears to have shifted. 

The political stew is stirred by campus protests that have disrupted college graduations; pro-Palestinian demonstrators seized buildings, established tent encampments, defaced statues, and intimidated Jewish students. Even Jerry Seinfeld faced a walk-out by some Duke University students when he delivered their commencement address. These protests differ from the anti-Vietnam War movement that roiled our nation a half-century ago. Those anti-war demonstrations were aimed at ending an unpopular war where 50,000 American lives were lost, not aimed at America’s ally or one religious group.

Looming over all issues is the New York vs. Trump verdict. In response, Democrats recite “no one is above the law,” while Republicans condemn it as “political persecution.” 

I was campaign manager for two successful Los Angeles City Council campaigns, a top aide/Chief of Staff for two council members, chaired a Los Angeles County ballot measure, signed ballot measures, and served on two government Commissions. Here’s my take on how these issues impact November:

Los Angeles 

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon is a poster child of a progressive prosecutor. Gascon moved boldly after his 2020 election with a series of “criminal justice reforms.” Those charged with a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony would not be required to post cash bail, and his office would not seek enhanced penalties if a criminal committed a crime using a gun. Gascon led a primary field with only 25% of the vote this year. In November, will Los Angeles voters vote for purist ideology with Gascon or choose former federal prosecutor Nathan Hochman’s balanced approach to criminal justice?


In 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47, which reclassified thefts of amounts less than $950 as misdemeanors. The spike in crime was foreseeable. A proposition on the November ballot will roll back Proposition 47 so offenders with two prior convictions for theft will be charged with a felony and impose harsher penalties for dealing fentanyl and other hard drugs. Are California’s deep blue voters fed up?


A 2020 ballot measure decriminalized possession of small amounts of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine. The results were predictable: citizens could shoot heroin on public sidewalks without consequences, and overdose deaths spiked to four times the national average. More than 700,000 people in Oregon failed to receive addiction treatment. There is no humanity in having humans die on the street from drug overdoses or from lack of treatment. Common sense stirred Oregon’s Democratic governor to sign a bi-partisan law repealing the ballot measure. Progressive prosecutors just suffered another blow when Portland’s District Attorney, who Politico termed “ultra-liberal,” was defeated by a moderate challenger.


Seattle, home of the infamous CHOP movement where protestors occupied city blocks, and the city’s mayor termed the area a “summer of love.” Four CHOP shootings later, the mayor allowed police to clear the area. Seattle lost more than 500 police officers after the city council reduced the police budget by 18%. Yet in 2021, a newly elected mayor defeated his challenger, who was championing further cuts in law enforcement. 

Crime & Chaos Impact in Congressional Races

Crime, public safety, and social unrest have historically resonated in national politics. 

Richard Nixon defeated Hubert Humphrey due in part to the perception that Humphrey was “soft” on crime. Bill Clinton avoided the mushy tag by adding 100,000 new police officers to the streets. Biden does not have the Clintonian touch to thread the needle—moderate his credentials on hot-button social issues while not antagonizing his base.  

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is airing digital ads in select Senate races tying Democratic candidates with the most virulent antisemitic attacks and labeling protestors “Hamas sympathizers.” When Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown refused to denounce the demonstrators, his GOP opponent responded how Brown “wholeheartedly endorsed vile and violent antisemitic demonstrations.” Harsh but probably effective. Rosen (Nevada), Hester (Montana), and Casey (Pennsylvania) are vulnerable to flip. 

The Cook Political Report has 210 lean or solid Republican seats, with 203 lean or solid for the Democrats. Twenty-two seats are “toss-ups.” Republicans will benefit from the violence and chaos, especially if their Democratic opponent is locked into progressive views not aligned with their constituents. 

The Verdict’s Impact on Biden/Trump 

The historic verdict has rallied Republicans around Trump. The political proof is raising $52 million twenty-four hours after the verdict. Yet the verdict has political riches for Ds, and hundreds of millions in political ads will air the phrase “convicted felon.”  

A few objective observers, such as CNN legal commentator and New York magazine author Elie Honig, stated, “Prosecutors got Trump—But they also contorted the law.” A key metric is how many independents and less partisan voters view Trump as a sympathetic figure. Republicans have legitimate arguments about Bragg and various aspects of the case, but Democrats have a verdict.  

The political impact is not settled. While voters’ opinions on Trump and Biden are basically baked in. It is worth noting that every poll has economy/inflation as the dominant issues with immigration second. Elections are always about the future, Biden is best served not dwelling on the verdict, and Trump should never mention 2020—will either one focus on the future? 

“Convicted felon” is uncharted territory. Both bases are energized. However, outraged voters who see Trump as a victim are more motivated than Democratic voters who are content that “we got him.” The verdict could trigger a significant Republican GOTV/get-out-the-vote effort.

Swing states Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania could be decided by a few thousand votes. Biden carried Wisconsin by 20,000 votes. Will the verdict tip independents to Biden or rally them to Trump? 

There is a national sense of hopelessness with events spiraling out of control: the border, inflation, college demonstrations, spikes in crime, Israel-Gaza, and Russia invading Ukraine. Bill Maher recently opined on Trump, “For lots of people. . .he’s all that stands between us and madness.” The accuracy of that view will decide the 2024 election.

My novel Center Stage—A Political Thriller is a fictional account of mega rockstar Tyler Sloan’s campaign as a political independent for the United States Senate. 

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6 thoughts on “Crime, Campus Chaos, and the Verdict

  1. Wayne- when Judge Juan Merchan sentences President Trump to jail in July, or imposes harsh terms further limiting his First Amendment rights, or denies bail pending his appeal, there will be another massive groundswell of support.

    You didn’t mention RFK, Jr., who will surely bleed progressive support from Biden, and Hunter’s tax trial which will surely expose more Biden corruption. Then there is the issue of the videotaped Biden deposition for which the democrats have laughably claimed “executive privilege.” If this is revealed, it is a game changer, and by itself may cause Biden’s withdrawal and a new candidate, like Shapiro, Whitmer, Newsom or Harris.

  2. Can Trump assume the presidency having added 34 felonies to his resume? There are convincing metrics in play including pending incarceration that indicate Trump is finished politically.
    Trump verbally assaulted the most influential person of American policy: Has Donald sufficiently attoned for his transgression?

    1. Interesting that Trump’s bogus felony convictions and the Banana Republic specter of corrupt incarceration have resulted in the greatest increase in campaign contributions in history. They are contributions for Trump. As I frequently request of individuals during political discussions: Please tell me one thing that Trump did as president that adversely affected you.

  3. Excluding being the dominant force convincing Americans into accepting the toxic covid injectable. Trump permanently damaged millions.

      1. The primary question sustains: Can Trump having amassed 34 felony convictions be elected to the presidency? Could/would this be tolerated and are we being played?

        Our handlers know exactly what they are doing; masters of the art of deception.

        Are we being played?

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