REALTORS®, Renters May Be Swing Votes in Midterms

November 6, 2018

Already, more than 326,000 of the nation’s 1.3 million REALTORS® have cast their ballots in early voting, a 64 percent increase from 2014, when the last midterm elections were held, the National Association of REALTORS® said Tuesday. That compares to a 46 percent jump in early voting turnout among all eligible voters.

“As the only advocacy group in America that fights exclusively for homeownership, real estate investment, and the free enterprise system, the REALTOR® Party is not focused on the right, left, or even the middle of the aisle; it is focused on the issues that matter to existing and future homeowners and our industry,” 2019 NAR President John Smaby said in a letter to REALTORS® on Tuesday. “That’s why it is so important to make your REALTOR® voice heard at the polls. We need your help to elect candidates who understand issues impacting our work and our clients.”

However, renters could have a big impact on the midterm elections as well. Though homeowners tend to turn out in higher numbers to vote, ballot measures in several states that stand to impact renters—including preserving affordable housing and expanding rent control programs—may bring more of them out to the polls, according to a new study by online portal Apartment List.

Renters, who have a distinct set of needs, may have significant potential to swing elections, Christopher Salviati, housing economist at Apartment List, told The Wall Street Journal. “Thinking about them as a distinct voting coalition is increasing,” Salviati says. Renters “could have some real impact on ballot initiatives,” Jenny Schuetz, a fellow at Washington, D.C.-based think tank Brookings Institution, told the Journal. “In this election year, policy makers are awakening to the force of renters’ concerns.” 

In the 2016 election, 49 percent of renters who were eligible to vote went to the polls—much lower than the 67 percent of homeowners who voted, according to Apartment List. The discrepancy may be explained by the fact that local housing issues tend to have more of an effect on homeowners’ property values. “Homeowners may have different values and want different things than those who are renting,” Mark Muro, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told®.

Renters Could Be an Emerging Swing Vote This Election,” The Wall Street Journal (Nov. 5, 2018) [Log-in required]; REALTOR® Magazine