Homicides in America: A Comparison in Blue, Red and Swing States


The United States has two national data systems to collect information on homicide:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Reports
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Fatal Injury Reports

FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) has been gathering crime data from U.S. law enforcement agencies since 1930. Each month, most states’ law enforcement agencies compile and send this data to the FBI.

Beginning in the 1960s, the FBI started including more specific details about murders within the UCR. This led to the creation of the Supplementary Homicide Reports, which detail aspects like the jurisdiction, date, demographics of those involved, weapons used, the context, and the relationship between the victim and offender, among other information.

TV Series “FBI”

Reporting crimes to the FBI is not mandatory. The Department of Justice has complained that many law enforcement agencies either do not submit data from the Supplementary Homicide Reports regularly or not at all.

The report captures crime summaries only from state and local jurisdictions. It does not include cases handled by federal agencies, like those occurring in federal prisons, military bases, and Indian reservations.

It’s also worth noting that the details in the Supplementary Homicide Reports are based on initial police investigations. They do not reflect subsequent legal actions, including charges or court verdicts.

Typically, the Uniform Crime Report is published around six months after the end of the year. The Supplementary Homicide Reports, which rely on the UCR’s data, usually takes another six months to complete.

CDC’s Fatal Injury Reports

The CDC’s Fatal Injury Reports originate from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). Initiated in the 1930s, the NVSS gathers birth and death registration data from every state.

It’s mandated by law for coroners or medical examiners to examine all homicides and unexpected deaths. In instances of homicide, they usually fill out the medical section of the death certificate, including the cause of death. This certificate is then forwarded to the state’s vital statistics department and subsequently categorized and relayed to the CDC.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC’s Fatal Injury Reports and the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports serve different purposes and collect distinct sets of data. For example, the CDC’s reports do not include any details about suspects or the nature of their relationship to the victims.

Another important difference is:

  • State and local law enforcement agencies can choose whether or not to report homicides to the FBI (and many either report inconsistently or not at all),
  • Reporting deaths to the CDC via state vital statistics offices is mandatory by law. As such, the CDC’s data may offer a more thorough picture than that of the FBI.

The Fatal Injury Reports are typically released about two years after the year ends. The latest data released in 2023 pertains to the year 2021 and is accessible on the CDC’s website.

Brief comparison of the two reports

CDC ReportFBI Report
PurposeTrack all deathsTrack crime statistics
SourceState vital registrarsLaw enforcement agencies
Initial reportDeath certificatePolice report
Reporting responsibilityCoroner/Medical examinerLaw enforcement officers
Definition of homicideInjuries inflicted with intent to injure or killMurders & nonnegligent manslaughters
Reporting isMandatoryVoluntary
Data collectionCause of death is confirmed by a coronerVoluntary compilation by the police

Below are the figures I’ve compiled from the CDC’s Fatal Injury Reports for the past 8 years. Vermont and several other states didn’t have recorded homicide rates for some years. The CDC table lists them as 0, but that doesn’t mean there were no homicides at all.

For instance, in 2021, three states had a homicide rate of 0, but each had a small number of homicides: New Hampshire with 15, Vermont with 10, and Wyoming with 16. Interestingly, these three states represent a political spectrum: New Hampshire being a swing state, Vermont a blue state, and Wyoming a red state.

Occurrences where states register a “0” homicide rate are rare, and when they do occur, the actual number of homicides tends to be minimal.

Homicide statistics by state from 2014-2021

The table below includes the homicide rates per 100,000 population for each state from 2014-2021, as well as the average homicide rate in the 8 years. It also includes the results of the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections (D for Democrat and R for Republican). The categorization of states as red, blue, and swing is as follows:

  • Blue states: Those where the Democratic Party won by more than 5 points in both the 2016 and 2020 elections.
  • Red states: Those where the Republican Party won by more than 5 points in both elections.
  • Swing states: All other states that don’t fit into the aforementioned categories.

Overall, the homicide rate in red states seems significantly higher than in blue states.

The table initially displays the average homicide rate over the 8-year period, along with the 2020 election results, sorting from highest to lowest rates. You can check or uncheck years and data points to view more metrics, or click on the table header to rearrange the data.

Homicide rates by state from 2014-2021

State20142015201620172018201920202021Average2016 Election2020 ElectionStatus
ALAlabama8.110.211.812.912.212.814.215.912.3D 34% – R 62%D 37% – R 62%Red
AKAlaska4.787.310.67.510. 37% – R 51%D 43% – R 53%Red
AZArizona55. 45% – R 48%D 49% – R 49%Swing
ARArkansas7. 34% – R 61%D 35% – R 62%Red
CACalifornia4.655. 62% – R 32%D 63% – R 34%Blue
COColorado3. 48% – R 43%D 55% – R 42%Swing
CTConnecticut2. 55% – R 41%D 59% – R 39%Blue
DEDelaware6.67.576. 53% – R 42%D 59% – R 40%Blue
FLFlorida6. 48% – R 49%D 48% – R 51%Swing
GAGeorgia6. 46% – R 51%D 49% – R 49%Swing
HIHawaii2. 62% – R 30%D 64% – R 34%Blue
IDIdaho2.421.932. 27% – R 59%D 33% – R 64%Red
ILIllinois6.26.99.2988.111.2128.9D 56% – R 39%D 58% – R 41%Blue
INIndiana5.767.67.27.47109.67.6D 38% – R 57%D 41% – R 57%Red
IAIowa2. 42% – R 51%D 45% – R 53%Red
KSKansas3. 36% – R 57%D 42% – R 56%Red
KYKentucky4. 33% – R 63%D 36% – R 62%Red
LALouisiana11.712.414.314.413.314.719.921.315.3D 38% – R 58%D 40% – R 58%Red
MEMaine21.70001. 48% – R 45%D 53% – R 44%Swing
MDMaryland6.710.310.110.29.31011.412.210.0D 60% – R 34%D 65% – R 32%Blue
MAMassachusetts22. 60% – R 33%D 66% – R 32%Blue
MIMichigan6. 47% – R 48%D 51% – R 48%Swing
MNMinnesota1. 46% – R 45%D 52% – R 45%Swing
MSMississippi11.411.312.112.713.415.420.523.715.1D 40% – R 58%D 41% – R 58%Red
MOMissouri7.59.69.911.311.410.81412.410.9D 38% – R 57%D 41% – R 57%Red
MTMontana2.944. 36% – R 56%D 41% – R 57%Red
NENebraska3.443. 34% – R 59%D 39% – R 58%Red
NVNevada6. 48% – R 46%D 50% – R 48%Swing
NHNew Hampshire00001.82.8000.6D 47% – R 47%D 53% – R 45%Swing
NJNew Jersey4. 55% – R 41%D 57% – R 41%Blue
NMNew Mexico6.889.48.510.811.810.815.310.2D 48% – R 40%D 54% – R 44%Blue
NYNew York3.43.43.633. 59% – R 37%D 61% – R 38%Blue
NCNorth Carolina5. 46% – R 50%D 49% – R 50%Swing
NDNorth Dakota03.1002. 27% – R 63%D 32% – R 65%Red
OHOhio5. 44% – R 52%D 45% – R 53%Red
OKOklahoma6. 29% – R 65%D 32% – R 65%Red
OROregon2. 50% – R 39%D 56% – R 40%Blue
PAPennsylvania5.25.666. 47% – R 48%D 50% – R 49%Swing
RIRhode Island2.52.82.3002.533.62.1D 54% – R 39%D 59% – R 39%Blue
SCSouth Carolina7.69.599.310.21112.713.410.3D 41% – R 55%D 43% – R 55%Red
SDSouth Dakota3. 32% – R 62%D 36% – R 62%Red
TNTennessee6. 35% – R 61%D 37% – R 61%Red
TXTexas5.25.665.85.45.9886.2D 43% – R 52%D 46% – R 52%Red
UTUtah222.52.62.2332.72.4D 27% – R 46%D 38% – R 58%Red
VTVermont000000000.0D 57% – R 30%D 66% – R 31%Blue
VAVirginia4. 50% – R 44%D 54% – R 44%Blue
WAWashington3. 53% – R 37%D 58% – R 39%Blue
WVWest Virginia5. 26% – R 69%D 30% – R 69%Red
WIWisconsin34. 46% – R 47%D 49% – R 49%Swing
WYWyoming4.40004.14.44.902.2D 22% – R 68%D 27% – R 70%Red

Homicide rate in blue states

Below is the homicide rate for 15 blue states. For a fair comparison, the following blue, red, and swing state graphs all use the same scale, ranging from 0 to 25 per 100,000 population.

Homicide rate in red states

Below are 23 red states. Rate is per 100,000 population.

Homicide rate in swing states

Here are 12 states identified as swing states. Take Florida as an example: despite Trump’s victories in both elections, his margins were 1.20 and 3.36 points, each below the 5 percentage point threshold. Therefore, for the purposes of this article, Florida is categorized as a “swing state.”

2021 homicide rate map by state

As previously mentioned, the CDC’s 2021 report recorded a homicide rate of 0 for three states. However, in reality, these states did experience a few homicides: Wyoming had 16, Vermont 10, and New Hampshire 15. Each of these figures represents a relatively low homicide rate.

Homicide rate over 8 years by state

The rates are calculated based on a 100,000 population. When viewed over an 8-year period, the disparity becomes remarkably pronounced.

Derek Yang

I'm an immigrant living with my family in a small town on the East Coast. I love classical music, enjoy a good cup of coffee, and have a soft spot for BMWs. I believe in lifelong learning and look forward to connecting with you to share our life experiences. Twitter @mrderekyang.

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