Will your renters play a crucial role in elections as in the past renters have historically voted at far lower rates than homeowners.
By Chris Salviati and Rob Warnock
The 2022 midterms are less than two weeks away, and the nation’s renters could play a crucial role in determining the outcome, according to a report from Apartment List.
“We’ve argued in the past that increased political engagement among a coalition of renters could have the potential to swing elections, and the upcoming midterms could prove to be a turning point where such a movement gains momentum.
“Renters have historically voted at far lower rates than homeowners, but that gap has been narrowing in recent years. Mobilizing renters could be a winning strategy for Democrats, the party that renters tend to favor by a wide margin. But given their present state of economic frustration and disenchantment, this large voting bloc could present an opportunity for either party,” the report says.
Will renters play a crucial role in elections some key findings:
- In the 2018 midterm elections, 40 percent of eligible renters voted, compared to 59 percent of homeowners. “Although this turnout gap is significant, 2018 saw the highest renter turnout and the smallest turnout gap of any midterm election that we analyzed, going back to 1990. Similarly, 2020 saw the highest renter turnout and second smallest turnout gap of any presidential election we looked at.”
- In 2020, renters voted for President Biden by a staggering margin of 36.5 percentage points, and also favored Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives by a similar margin of 35.2 percentage points.
- Among renters who are registered to vote, 49 percent say that rising housing costs have negatively affected their families in the past year, and 54 percent say that housing is a key issue for them in the upcoming midterms. Also, 61 percent of renters say that they are “very likely” to vote on November 8, compared to 80 percent of homeowners.
Why more homeowners than renters vote
Homeowners have a large financial motivation to vote when they perceive that the policies at stake could affect local property values.
Renters, on the other hand, face additional obstacles to voting.
For example, renters are more likely to be struggling financially, such that taking the time to vote may exact a greater cost. Renters also move more frequently than homeowners, which could make it harder to maintain an active voter registration. And renters are far more likely to be members of minority groups who have been plagued by a long history of voter suppression. As a result, there is a wide gap in voter turnout that has persisted for decades.
Can housing affordability be a mobilizing force for voters?
“Our survey also demonstrates how for those experiencing the effects of inflation, housing affordability can be a politically mobilizing force.
“Among renters who agree that rising housing costs have had a negative impact on their lives, 58 percent told us they have become more politically active over the past two years, while only six percent say they are less politically active. Interestingly, this mobilization is even stronger among the relatively small share of homeowners who are feeling the negative effects of housing inflation: Sixty-three percent say they are more active today, while only six percent are less active,” the report says.
What role could renters play in the upcoming midterms and beyond?
“Renter voices are significantly underrepresented in our nation’s politics, and boosting the voter turnout of this large demographic could have dramatic implications in the outcomes of elections,” the report says.
“The most recent few national elections offer evidence that such a shift has already been starting to take place. And with the housing affordability crisis having rapidly grown in magnitude since 2020, there’s good reason to believe that political mobilization of renters may continue to pick up steam in the upcoming 2022 midterms and beyond.”