Foreclosure’s Fallout: Economic Adversity and Voter Turnout
With the foreclosure crisis continuing to impact individuals and communities across the country, understanding the extent of its effect on political life is tantamount. In this paper, we ask how political behaviors are influenced by the economic adversities created by this crisis: loss of home, loss of resources, and perhaps loss of political efficacy. Previous research on economic adversity focuses almost exclusively on unemployment. Here we explore the demobilizing effects of foreclosures at the individual level, community levels, and the intersection of individuals nested in communities. With a unique dataset that matches voter file data to a database on individual foreclosures, we show that the foreclosure crisis was associated with a decline in voter turnout, both individually and for those in neighborhoods hit harder by the foreclosure crisis. We find that homeowners facing the loss of their homes were less likely to go to the polls. Consistent with previous research, we also show that turnout was suppressed in neighborhoods with higher rates of foreclosure. Taken together, our results suggest that political elites were less likely to hear from constituents most directly impacted by the foreclosure crisis.
KeywordsForeclosures Voter turnout Political inequality
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