The Political Geography of Housing Misery

A blog about business and economics.
July 19 2012 2:13 PM

The Political Geography of Housing Misery

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Foreclosures and housing issues haven't been front and center in the presidential campaign, but they seem likely to come up sooner or later. But housing pain, like electoral votes, isn't distributed evenly across the country. Jed Kolko, chief economist for the real estate site Trulia, has a Housing Misery Index that combines percentage decline in prices from the peak and the percent of mortgages that CoreLogic says are delinquent or in foreclosure. Combine this with Real Clear Politics' classification of the competitiveness of different states and you get the table above.

The upshot here is that housing pain is much less of an issue in Romney's geographical base than it is in the rest of the country. Potentially that could make it easier for Obama to address the issue, as it's generally best to try to focus on issues that unite your core constituents with the people you're trying to reach out to. That said it's tricky to make inferences from places to voters. Arizona "leans Romney" according to RCP and has a lot of housing misery according to Trulia, but are the Romney voters in Arizona experiencing a lot of housing misery or is that concentrated among working class Latinos who favor Obama?

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.