Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Stuck Voters

Voter turnout is likely to be higher than usual in this year’s U.S. elections, which take place Tuesday, November 2, not just because of the high interest in the political issues at stake, but also because fewer voters are moving.

It’s true that home foreclosures are the highest they have ever been in U.S. history, and foreclosure usually means it’s time to move (though foreclosures also occur on houses where the owners have already moved out). What is even more extraordinary, though, is the way that foreclosures have become one of the main reasons people are moving from one residence to another. Roughly half of homeowners are stuck with their homes, unable to move because the amount they owe on their mortgages is at least as much as the homes could be sold for. They may want to move, but it will have to wait.

Another reason people are not moving as much as usual is the low turnover in the job market. People move mainly to go to new jobs. With few job openings, there aren’t so many reasons to move.

People are less likely to vote while they are in the middle of moving, or for several months afterward. They are more likely to vote if they are staying put. With more people than usual staying where they are, voter turnout is likely to be higher for that reason alone.