What the Foreclosure Crisis Means for the Election

The country’s foreclosure wave could suppress voter turnout in key battleground states, experts now say.

Pollsters are having trouble finding where these foreclosed voters have gone—and they’re finding that foreclosed voters may not come out to vote at all.

At minimum, the foreclosure crisis is roiling voter polling on this election.

That means more uncertainty about voter polls showing where this election is headed, which means this presidential race may be more nerve wracking than ever.

In the past four years, more than 3.7 million homes have been lost to foreclosure since 2008, according to market research firm CoreLogic.

And President Barack Obama won three of the eight states with some of the highest foreclosure rates in the country--Florida, Ohio and Nevada--but they are now battlegrounds, more so since each state has since elected Republican governors, says Neil Garfield, a specialist in foreclosures, economist and a consumer advocate who has been tracking the issue.

A new study by the University of California-Riverside found foreclosures depressed voter turnout in California in 2008.

All likely due to anxiety and mistrust, the thinking likely being, "we are already hurting, what is our vote going to change? We’re now just trying to survive."

Who is most affected? Foreclosure is particularly high among populations already less likely to be politically active: young, minority, moderate-income families, meaning, solidly middle class. That means the older voter could have more of an impact this election.

Campaign organizers and pollsters have found dozens of vacated homes in key battleground states that contributed strong turnouts in the 2008 election.

Pollsters are having trouble working with voter databases loaded now with old addresses and phone numbers that have been disconnected.

The California study analyzed state foreclosure data as well as voter-turnout records according to ZIP code, adjusting for things such as poverty, ethnicity and proportion of neighborhood residents with a four-year college degree.

To read the study, click here.

Nearly 650,000 homes fell into foreclosure in California between 2008 and the first quarter of 2011.

The study found neighborhoods hit hard by foreclosure were less likely to cast ballots -- even neighbors who remained in their homes didn’t come out to vote.