Nearly three out of four American voters believe that it is reasonable and appropriate for the federal government to provide tax incentives to promote homeownership, a sentiment that cuts across partisan and regional lines across the country, according to a recent poll conducted on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
Further, an overwhelming majority of respondents oppose eliminating the mortgage interest deduction and would be less likely to support a candidate for Congress who wants to do away with this vital tax incentive.
"Despite the current housing downturn, Americans still see homeownership as a core value and a key building block of being in the middle class and creating strong jobs in their communities," said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, which conducted the survey along with Public Opinion Strategies. "The bottom line: The bipartisan consensus outside the Beltway is that owning a home remains an essential part of the American Dream and voters would strongly oppose any efforts by lawmakers to increase barriers to homeownership."
Two thousand likely 2012 voters were surveyed from May 3 through May 9 to assess the public's attitude in the wake of the Great Recession towards housing, the mortgage interest deduction and the value of homeownership. The survey included data from key political "swing areas," broken out by House Republican freshmen seats, National Journal political analyst Charlie Cook's swing House and Senate seats, and Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza's presidential toss-up states. Among the poll's key findings:
Among voters who are aware of proposals under consideration by Washington policymakers to raise the downpayment requirements for a home loan, 92 percent believe it will make it more difficult to buy a home. Six federal agencies are proposing a national standard to require a minimum 20 percent downpayment, which would be opposed by households most likely to be affected - mortgage holders and renters ages 18 to 54. Among voters in these age groups, 59 percent of renters and 58 percent of those holding a mortgage oppose adding that obstacle to buying a home.
"The polling found that there is a significant disconnect between Washington policy makers and the nation's electorate when it comes to the mortgage interest deduction, the importance of homeownership and the need to keep housing a national priority," said Neil Newhouse, a partner and co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies. "The Administration and some in Congress are floating plans to curtail or even abolish the mortgage interest deduction and impose changes that would make it much more difficult and expensive to get a home loan. This is in direct opposition to the views of most Americans, who want the government to encourage growth in the housing market and to maintain tax incentives to keep housing affordable."
The polling data also shows:
"Those in Congress who believe that homeownership and housing choice should no longer be national priorities would be well-served to study the results of this poll and hear what the American people think," said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev. "To put it another way, America's voters have spoken. If Congress abandons policies to support the goal of homeownership and to keep housing affordable, lawmakers could be in for a rude awakening in the 2012 elections."
This national survey of 2,000 likely 2012 voters was conducted May 3-9, 2011 by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va., and Lake Research Partners of Washington, D.C. It has a margin of error of +2.19%.
Public Opinion Strategies is a national political and public affairs research firm based in Alexandria, Va. Founded in 1991, it has conducted more than 6 million interviews with voters and consumers in all 50 states and over two dozen foreign countries.
Lake Research Partners is a leading public opinion and political strategy research firm providing expert research-based strategy for campaigns, issue advocacy groups, foundations, unions and non-profit organizations.