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Report finds that renters could significantly affect Democratic primary

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BY BETH DEDMAN

According to a report from Apartment List Rentonomics, renter votes could swing votes in the Democratic primary in dramatic ways — if they show up to the polls, that is. 

Renters represent almost one in three voters, or 30.2% of the eligible voting population, according to a different report, also by Apartment List Rentonomics.  However, only 49% of renters cast a ballot in 2016, compared to 67% of homeowners. 

A wave of state and local housing measures have demonstrated increased political activity among renters, according to the report. Issues like the housing affordability crisis and rent control have mobilized renters across the country to get involved in legislation and government.

Renters, who are more likely to struggle economically, have decidedly more progressive views on the economy than homeowners, supporting more platforms that benefit poorer demographics. According to the report, among Democratic voters, 70% of renters favor increased spending on aid to the poor, compared to 57% of homeowners.  

The net worth of the median renter is about $5,200, compared to the median homeowner, who is worth about $231,400. There are twice as many minority renters as there are minority homeowners. 

In the 2016 Democratic primaries, 46% of renters voted for Bernie Sanders, compared to just 34% of homeowners. With Sanders now emerging as a frontrunner among 2020 Democratic candidates, mobilizing the renter vote could secure him the nomination.

Although the renter population heavily favors Democrats, 39% of renters identify as independents, which could dramatically affect the general election should the nominees manage to mobilize voters to pick a side. 

President Trump beat Clinton in the 2016 election by a margin of 6 percentage points, but Clinton won the renter vote by 30 percentage points. If renter turnout had matched homeowner turnout in 2016, Hilary Clinton would have won the general election, according to the report. 

The 2020 elections could be decided by whether or not candidates are able to effectively activate this large untapped voting bloc.

“If renters can be motivated to show up at the polls in higher numbers than they have in the past, their votes have the power to swing both the primaries and the general election,” according to the report. 

The full report is available at www.apartmentlist.com

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