One theme throughout this election cycle was the need to restore "law and order." The undertone, of course, is that violent crime is on the rise. While there have undoubtedly been significant national tragedies this year that captured the countries attention, the statistics don't play out the theme that violent crime is on the rise. To the contrary, the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program attempts to capture reports of violent crime (murder, rape, robbery, and assault) committed anywhere in the country. The absolute quantity of violent crime is undoubtedly troubling -- ~375 violent crimes per 100,00 people. From a relative standpoint, however, the national crime rate has been on a steady decline throughout the Clinton, Bush, and Obama presidencies. Put differently 375 crimes per 100,000 people is a historic low in recent memory. Its roughly half of what it was when Bill Clinton entered office.
So is violent crime a real issue? While the national rate has decreased, that does not necessarily apply to individual cities that may be bucking the national trend. So, in one respect, the answer may be "it depends upon where you live." One thing is certain, its definitely not a foregone conclusion that either the Clinton, Bush, or Obama policies had a negative impact on violent crime. If responsibility for the crime rate can be attributed to those administrations (itself a questionable proposition as law enforcement is primarily a local government responsibility), the most that can be said is that all three presidents had a positive impact on the crime rate.