Donald Trump Doesn’t Like Real Statistics So He Uses Fake Ones
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump recently tweeted out some blatantly false statistics about murder in the United States. The tweet, which featured a graphic breaking down “USA Crime Statistics ~ 2015,” not only gets the facts about crime wrong but does so in a way that is pretty clearly racist.
Here’s the tweet:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2015
The graphic claims that the statistics are from the “Crime Statistics Bureau – San Francisco,” which does not actually exist. The San Francisco Police Department does have a Crime Analysis Unit that releases crime statistics, but it doesn’t publish information about the racial makeup of victims and offenders. For those statistics, we have to rely on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR), which is a comprehensive report of offenses known to law enforcement in cities, states, and regions across the United States. The UCR is the most authoritative source for crime statistics in the United States–Law Street uses it to rank the Safest and Most Dangerous Cities and States in America.
According to the Crime in the United States report for 2014, the most recent statistics available, Trump’s numbers are clearly off. In total, 5,472 black and white Americans were murdered in cases where the race of both the victim and the offender are known. Here’s the breakdown according to the report’s supplementary homicide table:
Blacks killed by whites: 7.6 percent
Whites killed by blacks: 14.8 percent
Whites killed by whites: 82.4 percent
Blacks killed by blacks: 90 percent
The most blatant inaccuracy in Trump’s statistics is his claim that 81 percent of white victims were killed by a black offender. In reality, that number is about 15 percent, and the number of black victims killed by white offenders is nearly four times higher than Trump’s statistics claim.
Generally speaking, most murders involve a victim and offender of the same race–so no, there is not a massive inequality in the number of white people killed by black people. It is also important to note that when you look at cases where the relationship between the victim and the offender is known, most murder victims already know their assailant–meaning that murder by a stranger is much less likely than murder by a victim’s friend, family member, or acquaintance.
Trump’s tweet also comes after a notably crude statement that he made a couple days earlier. After a protestor interrupted Trump at a rally in Alabama yelling, “black lives matter,” a fight broke out and the protestor was badly beaten. Trump was asked about the incident later and said, “maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” He made a similarly controversial statement back in August after a homeless Hispanic man was badly beaten; one of the two alleged perpetrators cited Trump as his inspiration. When asked about it, Trump simply said,
I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that.
In both cases, Trump refused to denounce what happened, all but condoning the violence.
Trump’s recent tweet isn’t the first time that he’s been called out for playing fast and loose with evidence–though it may be the first time he’s trumpeted completely fabricated numbers. When Trump announced that he was running for president he kicked off his campaign with a clearly offensive comment about Mexican immigrants. He said,
They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.
He later tried to back up his claim citing an article from Fusion reporting the tragic finding that as many as 80 percent of all Central American girls who try to cross the border are raped in the process. Trump decided that the article supported his previous statements and when pressed to explain the connection, he said, “someone’s doing the raping.”
Despite all of these tenuous and inaccurate claims, Trump has retained a remarkably high level of support among conservative voters. In fact, he is notoriously difficult to fact check. Even when he cites blatantly wrong statistics or does a television interview where he repeatedly makes false claims, his comments, unfortunately, have no effect on his high poll numbers. We’ll have to see if this total mischaracterization of crime data is any different.