With more than 3.2 million homeowners displaced by foreclosures since January 2009, what are the political implications for the presidential election from this housing diaspora?
Clearly, many of these banished borrowers could easily swing the outcome of the presidential contest in key battleground states like Nevada and Florida, where hundreds of thousands of blacks and Hispanics were targeted by subprime lenders and subsequently lost their homes to foreclosure.
Whether the foreclosed vote and whether they can vote could be decisive. If these displaced voters aren’t properly registered they’ll sit out this election season.
A recent study by social scientists at UC Riverside concluded that neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates tend to have lower voter turnout. “Foreclosure Depresses Voter Turnout: Neighborhood Disruption and the 2008 Presidential Election in California,” authored by sociologist Vanesa Estrada-Correa and political scientist Martin Johnson and published in Social Science Quarterly, suggests that the housing and foreclosure crisis is suppressing voter turnout. Moreover, voters who remained in neighborhoods impacted by foreclosure were less likely to vote than individuals in more stable communities, the researchers discovered.
Low voter turnout should favor Gov. Mitt Romney and Senator Paul Ryan because the Republican base will come out strong to retire the incumbent.
The political pundits are mistakenly writing the GOP’s obituary. Foreclosed former homeowners — and hundreds of thousands of borrowers who lost their homes in auctions and short sales — could hold the keys to White House. And they might just hand them over to Romney and Ryan by staying away from the polls.