Hate crimes

Did Trump's 2016 Rallies Trigger a 226% Increase in Local Hate Crimes? Not Exactly.

The study at the source of the viral headline was limited to counting anti-Semitic incidents, many of which were not criminal in nature.


Last March, a number of media outlets—including The Washington Post, Business Insider, Voxand The Hill—reported a startling figure: During the 2016 campaign, U.S. counties in which candidate Donald Trump held a political rally experienced a 226 percent increase in hate crimes over those that did not.

The Post reupped this claim in a recent article, and numerous Trump-critical politicians—including Sen. Bernie Sanders (D–Vt.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.)—seized upon it. "Mr. President: stop your racist, hateful and anti-immigrant rhetoric," wrote Sanders in a Facebook post that referenced the statistic. "Your language creates a climate which emboldens violent extremists."

But much like the unsupported idea that the hate crime rate is higher than ever, the 226 percent statistic doesn't quite stand up to scrutiny.

The source of the statistic is a study by political scientists Ayal Feinberg, Regina Branton, and Valerie Martinez-Ebers. The trio co-authored the initial Post story, which ran under the title "Counties that hosted a 2016 Trump rally saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes." This headline misrepresents the study's findings. Trump's appearance did not cause counties to suddenly experience 226 percent more hate crimes—rather, counties that hosted Trump rallies experienced 3.26 times as many incidents as other counties, a 226 percent difference.

And those incidents, in turn, were not all hate crimes. The authors' sole source of data is the Anti-Defamation League's 2016 report on hate, extremism, anti-Semitism, and terrorism. This lists 1,321 anti-Semitic incidents reported to the organization in 2016. There are two important things to keep in mind here: 1) the list's focus is anti-Semitism, and 2) many of the incidents on the list are not actually hate crimes.

The first point matters because many people have interpreted this study's findings as proof of the notion that Trump's odious comments about immigrants and Muslims ("shithole countries," the travel ban, etc.) correspond with a spike in hate crimes committed against these groups. The Associated Press's coverage of the 226 percent statistic, for instance, begins by noting that "President Donald Trump has often railed about an 'invasion of illegals' at the southern border, words echoed in a screed the El Paso shooting suspect apparently posted that called the attack that killed 22 people at a Walmart his response to a 'Hispanic invasion of Texas.'" It's certainly conceivable that Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric could prompt an increase in hate crimes against them, but this study doesn't really test such a proposition, as it is almost exclusively focused on anti-Semitic acts.

The second point is important because "hate crime" is a very specific category that requires the perpetrator to have committed a crime—assault, vandalism, etc.—for reasons of animus toward a marginalized group. The ADL counts all sorts of anti-Semitic speech—vile stuff, to be sure, but much of it non-criminal. A great many incidents on the ADL's list are schoolyard bullying, for example. According to this study, Trump's political rallies are correlated with a significant spike in these kinds of incidents, but that's not as strong a finding as the headlines suggest.

The ADL dataset, by the way, is compiled using "news and media reports, government documents (including police reports), victim reports, extremist-related sources and Center on Extremism investigations." Greater public interest in reporting on these kinds of incidents could result in a perceived increase. The list is naturally selective, and incomplete: There are more than 3,000 counties in the U.S., and the ADL counted just 1,321 incidents in 2016. A "226 percent increase" sounds like a lot, but we're talking about less than one hate crime per county on average.

When I reached out to the study's authors some months ago, Feinberg explained that the study had not yet been peer reviewed, and thus he couldn't release it to me. (This was frustrating, given that the study's findings were already being reported as if they were unimpeachable.) But after the second round of media coverage, Feinberg's team released it.

When I raised some of these issues with him—that anti-Semitic incidents are not necessarily hate crimes, in particular—he replied that "as a result of queries like yours," his team would be re-running the numbers. This time they intend to use the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting database, which compiles statistics on hate crimes.

"The trump rally coefficient is both significant and directionally consistent with the ADL data," Feinberg assured me. His team plans to release the updated findings in the near future.

The FBI's database has a significant flaw of its own: Not all police jurisdictions participate in it, and thus its overall portrait of an ever-increasing hate-crime rate may well be misleading. Perhaps it could be a more useful vehicle for county-to-county comparisons than the ADL figures, but with the important caveat that there are some areas of the country that don't submit data at all. While I look forward to parsing the new results, it will still be important to interpret them with the appropriate levels of salt.

NEXT: Secret Memos Show the Government Has Been Lying About Backpage All Along

Hate crimes Antisemitism Donald Trump Election 2016

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

Please to post comments

39 responses to “Did Trump's 2016 Rallies Trigger a 226% Increase in Local Hate Crimes? Not Exactly.

  1. So, Orange Man Not So Bad?

    Does Robby even get the Reason narrative memos?

    1. I am making 10,000 Dollar at home own laptop .Just do work online 4 to 6 hour proparly . so i make my family happy and u can do

      …….. Read More

    2. Did Trump’s 2016 Rallies Trigger a 226% Increase in Local Hate Crimes? Not Exactly.

      Lefties hated it and starting committing crimes, so yeah Trump’s campaign rallies did trigger them.

      1. The nut cases on the left have been going nuts ever since Trump got elected.
        They preach love, acceptance and tolerance as long as you believe what they believe.
        Otherwise, you’re open to violence, hate and oppression like any other good totalitarian would employ, like Stalin, Hitler, Mao, or the Antifa thugs.

        1. ..I am making a good salary from home $1200-$2500/week , which is amazing, under a year back I was jobless in a horrible economy. I thank God every day I was blessed with these instructions and now it’s my duty to pay it forward and share it with Everyone, Here is what I do……….. > http://www.2salary.com

    3. Well, given the study link he gave out takes one to a paper that explicit says “do not cite,” I’m assuming he is having issues with that. (p.s., to all you journalists out there, when a paper says “do not cite” that’s code for “these are preliminary results, which are likely going to get the shit kicked out of them when we actually submit it to a journal for publication.”)

  2. The anti-Semitism of the alt-right was well established even before Orange Hitler ran for President. But now, as the SPLC has thoroughly documented, hateful bigots are emboldened. White nationalists feel free to make repulsive comments like “Open Borders for Israel” — as if the ideal immigration policy for the US would necessarily work in a totally different country on the other side of the globe.

    1. An interesting comment spoiled by the fact that much of the anti-Semitism recorded by the ADL is from left-leaning sources.

      And while I would certainly agree with the comment that “hateful bigots” have been emboldened recently, I would put the Southern Poverty Law Center squarely in that category of hateful bigots.

    2. ╔════╗───────────────╔═══╦═══╦═══╦═══╗─╔╗╔╗╔╗

      1. When will you post a drawing of you sucking Trump’s Tiny Little Mushroom Dick?

        h/t Stormy Daniels

      2. Is this your new thing?

        1. He is proud that he has learned to (sort of) code.
          As George Gobel always said “Don’t mock the afflicted”.

      3. that is T in one post. love it.

    3. Making a statement about Alt-Right as “established” is just as much validity as the SPLC has as being truthful about its intentions. The SPLC is a scam organization that once did some good things, but now is used as a tool to attack and devalue opponents. What has been established by law suits is that it is dishonest and uses quasi proof to that no-one but the trolls today have any faith in.

      1. You’re responding to a parody account.

  3. The ADL counts all sorts of anti-Semitic speech—vile stuff, to be sure, but much of it non-criminal.

    Just because our legislatures have bent the knee to the cowardly 1st Amendment doesn’t mean these hate-filled sentiments aren’t crimes.

    Honestly, it sounds semantics are damning their conclusions. Just use the nebulous “hate speech” terminology instead. Sure it’s not so hysterical as hate crime, but since hate speech is in the eye of the beholder, any study based on it would indeed be unimpeachable.

  4. Trump, and all Trump supporters, are all pro Judaism and pro Israel. If there is a spike in anti Semitic mood and and anti Semitic violence it’s 100% a result of increased rage from progressives.

    Case closed.

    1. I forgot that all of those people in Charlottesville shouting “Jews will not replace us” were die-hard Elizabeth Warren supporters.

      It isn’t enough that there’s no evidence of Trump causing an increase in hate crimes…you have to take it the extra step and say “but if there WERE evidence, I wouldn’t believe it anyways”. Christ, you’re a fucking moron.

      1. All Trump Trash are “fucking morons”. I think Rex Tillerson coined that phrase.

        Nevertheless they do have a fetish for Israel. Most of them believe Jesus will return and pull out the guts of all the non Christians and Israel must be marked accordingly for that to happen.

        1. You post child porn. Your opinions are worthless.

        2. While you may be a slightly more intelligent than LotS (on a good day), you have openly admitted to posting links to child porn on this website.

          Seriously, fuck off somewhere else. Everybody knows what you did.

          1. Fucking lies.

            When your opponents resort to lies you know you are winning. Unfortunately the Dotard will leave office with all four years of sub 3% GDP – something they blasted Obama for even though he inherited the Great Recession.

            1. You’re a liar around here, pervert.

            2. Sadly, no. You admitted to it. “Nobody forced you to click the KP links I posted etc”. You really are sick in the head.

    2. That is an interesting comment. The only contact I have had is the torqued comment every now and then by those who rote out the ideas that whites are the only civilized race, and other nonsense that ignores any knowledge of history. The other place is one of actors in Charlottesville who was a semi-leader in the Occupy movement. Rhetoric all over the place.

      It’s all shills and tastes that the media can make into a banquet of attacks against the right.

  5. >>The ADL counts all sorts of anti-Semitic speech—vile stuff, to be sure, but much of it non-criminal.

    you should not subscribe to any speech being criminal. free. speech.

  6. So the three PoliSci degree holders who wrote the story, also conducted the study. That is, they set up the metric being measured and all the other parameters of the study. There should not be any way they misunderstood what the study’s results were and the limitations of them. You also have to wonder what anti Semitism has to do with Trump, since he is, at worst, a cringey pro-semite.

  7. “This headline misrepresents the study’s findings.”

    All too often, perhaps even most of the time “journalism” = “misrepresentation.”

    But then, a headline which read something like “Political Rhetoric Has Little Effect On Hate Crimes” wouldn’t sell as many subscriptions.

  8. An increase in hate crime hoaxes, to be sure.

  9. I read a report from the SPLC awhile back, in 2017, which showed an increase in hate crimes (actual crimes). The headlines were very much along the lines of – “Trump Causes Increase in Hate Crimes” etc.

    When I actually read the report, it was people sending threats to people in the mail that were determined to be driven by racism, or consistent harassment of people based on various bigot ted opinions, etc. Real fucked up stuff, no doubt about it.

    One interesting thing omitted from the journalist articles that was actually included in the SPLC report – politically driven hate crime was also on the rise, particularly against black Trump supporters. Except this wasn’t just harassment and threats, this was almost entirely people physically assaulting individuals for having Trump signs or other Trump campaign items. It was people getting sent to the hospital for expressing support for a major political candidate – nearly all of it directed at Trump supporters, not supporters of Democratic candidates.

  10. Sounds like their study reached a conclusion and then developed only data that confirmed it.

  11. “The authors’ sole source of data is the Anti-Defamation League’s 2016 report on hate, extremism, anti-Semitism, and terrorism.”

    And someone, somewhere takes the ‘study’ seriously?
    Further, if this is not a shining example of “fake news”, you’d be hard put to find worse.

  12. rather, counties that hosted Trump rallies experienced 3.26 times as many incidents as other counties, a 226 percent difference.

    So because they aren’t comparing data from the same county before and after a rally, we can’t even be certain there was an increase at all

  13. This time they intend to use the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting database, which compiles statistics on hate crimes.

    “The trump rally coefficient is both significant and directionally consistent with the ADL data,” Feinberg assured me. His team plans to release the updated findings in the near future.

    What’s the point of doing a new study using new numbers and new definitions when they already know what the study is going to find? It’s like these people don’t even know how to science.

  14. I can believe it. The hate crimes against Trump supporters exploded. They were beaten and spit on attending various rallies and a Chicago rally had to be cancelled.
    The Chicago cops even let anti Trump protesters into the building.

  15. It’s kind of like AGW statistics. When you’re counting change in such small amounts that they fall within the error term…

  16. I am Jewish. I do think the ADL over reports so I do not count the statistics for much.

    There are crimes, murder, vandalism, threats of violence against people of all kinds. People who identify as gay, Muslim, Jewish, or are Black, Hispanic whatever do have legitimate reason for concern.

    To some extent you can provide your own security. My wife and I were talking about our plans for the high holidays Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur coming up. Where we go for services security is taken into consideration.

    Off duty uniform police are hired. They have a preschool and summer camp so money was raised to hire a security officer. The congregation maintains a great working relationship with the local government and community. I do not, but I do not know what other members may have in the talit bag if they are trained and want to do that.

    After Pittsburgh I think our community here has a more heightened awareness. I am not afraid and not worried. If there is a potential threat deal with it.

  17. As I remember the news reports Trump would hold a rally with very large crowds and the opposition would come to the rally and trouble would soon show up. Now this happened after the liberal news media had essentially invited those who hated Trump to disrupt the meeting by its constantly hounded Trump and his supporters. But when one the other candidate had a rally there were not very many who opposed that candidate show up and very little trouble. This shows the way the two sides handles the opposition.

Comments are closed.