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  • Writer's pictureKaren Young

New study: bold housing policies help Democratic turnout


Who knew?


Welcome to Message Monday!


According to Common Dreams, a new survey from the Cornell ILR Buffalo Co-Lab  shows that tenants are a “large, untapped political base” that can be mobilized by candidates who offer bold solutions to the housing crisis and support the rights of renters against predatory landlords squeezing them for profit.


The study is based on New York state voter data from the Catalist national database.


Nearly half of New Yorkers are renters, and NYC residents pay some of the highest rents in the country, creating a world of hurt for them.  Yet tenants typically vote at far lower rates than homeowners.  Renters in New York state (NYS) are more likely than homeowners to be registered as Democrats or members of the Working Families Party.


The study looked at how voters reacted to a major state housing bill introduced in 2022, the Good Cause Eviction bill, which protects renters against rent hikes and evictions.  The owner-renter turnout gap was nearly halved in races in which a candidate supported Good

Cause Evictions during the 2022 statewide general election.  Turnout in such races was 5% higher.

Pictured above, NY State Senator Jabari Brisport at a housing rally.


Spoiler alert, it took some time – dirty landlords fought hard – but the bill was in fact enacted in April 2024.


Zooming out, the study adds, “If tenants had [turnout] parity with homeowners, they would have cast 1.6 million more ballots in the statewide 2022 general election, primarily for Democrats and candidates on the Working Families Party line — an election in which control of Congress, the Governor’s mansion, and the state legislature were on the ballot.”  


That is to say, if more candidates had supported Good Cause Eviction, NY Dems would have turned out more voters, and maybe wouldn’t have lost five House races and cost the Democrats control of the House.  Just sayin.


Common Dreams goes on to mention that “CPD, Right to the City Action, and HIT Strategies released survey data earlier this month showing that 87% of US voters believe the "cost of rent and housing is a major or big problem in their state" and that 70% said they are "more likely to vote for someone who supports rent stabilization policies."


Politico reported earlier this year that Biden has privately expressed "increasing concern" that housing costs are putting his reelection hopes in jeopardy.  He’s noted that housing is an issue in blue and red states alike, and proposed some fixes, but they won’t go anywhere this election season.  Hopefully, he won’t let it go at that, but will put housing front and center, and call the GOP on their failure to represent the renters in their base.   Don’t we have a debate coming up? 

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