SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Crime and safety on the streets of San Francisco has been a hot topic in the media, both locally and nationally recently. Titillating headlines about wanton shoplifters, rampant drug use and violent street crime are regularly spattered across the internet.
However, according to a new poll, perceptions of how safe or unsafe San Francisco actually is break down along largely partisan lines. In the new poll from Gallup, 74% of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents regarded SF as safe to live in or visit.
By contrast, less than half that number, 32%, of Republicans and Republican leaning independents regarded the city as safe to live in or visit — a 42-point swing.
In the Gallup poll, respondents rated 16 large U.S. cities for safety with Dallas and Boston considered the safest. On the other end of the scale, respondents said Detroit and Chicago were the least safe.
San Francisco placed near the middle, coming in at No. 10. More than half of poll respondents overall, 52%, felt SF was safe, while 46% felt it was unsafe. The poll also revealed that perceptions of San Francisco as a safe city have declined over time.
In October of 2006, 70% of those polled felt SF was safe. By July of 2023, that number had dropped 18 points to 52%. While perception of SF as a safe city has dropped since the mid 2000s, it’s still higher than it was in the early 1990s. The drop, according to the poll, is largely due to a drop in safe ratings from Republicans, while Democrats’ safety ratings have remained largely stable.
The partisanship that currently divides opinions regarding the safety of large cities was not a factor back in 2006, according to Gallup. Today, Democrats seem to consider cities to be safer places to live or visit than Republicans do, with the exception of Chicago and Detroit.
Out of the 16 cities in the survey, only five — Las Vegas, Miami, Dallas, Boston and Houston — were considered safe by Republicans.