What to Know Today

Young, history-making candidates ran on gun violence prevention — and won. Democrats woke up on Wednesday to a much better electoral performance than polls (and history) had predicted in their first midterm election since President Joe Biden took office. Much of that success is thanks to young voters, many of whom were motivated by gun reform. They elected candidates like Nabeela Syed and Maxwell Frost, who will join state legislatures and the U.S. Congress, on the heels of campaigns that focused heavily on preventing gun violence. Read Chip Brownlee’s report on seven midterm races where gun reform made the difference

Republicans bet big on crime, but voters prioritized other issues. In the final weeks before Election Day, Republicans spent millions on ads concerning increased violence, and attacked Democrats for being “soft on crime” in battleground races. But according to the NBC News Exit Poll, whose data collection protocols are outlined here, inflation and abortion were the most salient issues for Americans as they headed to the polls on Tuesday. For Democrats, abortion was the top issue; Republicans were most concerned with inflation. Crime and gun policy tied for third among all voters — and only 12 percent of GOP voters named crime as the most important issue, behind inflation (44 percent), immigration (15 percent), and abortion (14 percent). 

Uvalde County overwhelmingly votes to reelect Greg Abbott. Less than half a year after the Robb Elementary School shooting, 60 percent of residents voted to keep the incumbent governor, a Republican who has resisted gun reforms, in office. Abbott beat Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, who advocated for tougher firearm laws and was endorsed by some families of Uvalde victims, by a 22 point margin in the county. That’s 12 percentage points higher than the margin from O’Rourke’s 2018 challenge to Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Observer noted. Texas Republicans swept the races for statewide offices, The Texas Tribune reported, for the 14th election year in a row.

Why is Knoxville, Tennessee, seeing so many shootings? According to gun violence researcher Thomas Abt, the answer doesn’t lay in the staid scapegoats of gangs and drugs. Rather, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported, most homicides stem from personal conflicts over things like relationships and social media disputes, and crime is a symptom of larger issues like economic and racial inequality. He noted that Knoxville doesn’t have gangs in the traditional sense of highly organized groups. Much of the city’s violence, Abt said, is retaliatory, and occurs between “men that don’t have a lot of opportunities or much hope.” Between January 1, 2019, and December 31, 2021, Knoxville saw a surge in homicides that surpassed national average increases — murders in the city increased 68 percent in 2020 and 11 percent in 2021, compared to national increases 30 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

One student killed in Seattle school shooting. The shooting took place Tuesday morning at Ingraham High School. Seattle school district superintendent Brent Jones said it appeared to be a “targeted attack,” The Seattle Times reported. Police arrested a suspect about an hour after responding to reports of gunfire.

Data Point

$85 million — the amount spent on political advertisements about crime this fall. Democrats spent $36 million, and Republicans spent $49 million. [The Washington Post]