With next year’s election looming over Washington, housing may become a more critical political issue than ever as it becomes increasingly clear that the economy’s anemic recovery is unlikely to improve without a boost from the housing sector. What’s more, a recent poll of 2,000 likely voters found that Americans have strong opinions on the subject.

The poll, conducted in partnership by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies, on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders, found that 73% of respondents felt it is “appropriate and reasonable for the federal government to provide tax incentives to promote homeownership.”  

When asked about specifics, the strongest reaction came from the proposal to eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction (MID), which 71% of those surveyed opposed and 53% opposed strongly. That opposition held across party lines, with 76% of Republicans, 73% of Independents, and 67% of Democrats opposing the measure.

Lowering the MID was opposed by 63% of those surveyed, and eliminating the deduction for interest paid on a home equity loan was opposed by 58%. Even limiting the MID for mortgages over $500,000 or for those earning more than $250,000 per year met with disapproval among 53% and 55% of respondents, respectively.

And Americans are planning to take this deep-rooted support for homeownership to the polls. By a margin of two to one, those surveyed indicated that they are less likely to vote for a Congressional candidate who proposed to eliminate the MID. That opposition was strongest among Republicans, 60% of whom said they would be less likely to support such a candidate. Among Independents and Democrats, opposition stood at 56% and 55%, respectively. Even among Tea Party supporters, 61% of respondents would be less likely to vote for such a candidate.

“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,” said Calinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, in a press statement.

In districts held by freshman Republicans, 58% of those surveyed said they would be less likely to support a candidate who was in favor of doing away with the MID. And it’s not only congressmen who are likely to take notice, as there was another large group who said they would be less likely to support a candidate that wanted to do away with the MID: 54% of respondents in states that The Washington Post’s Chris Cilliza designates as swing states in the race for president also said they would be less likely to support a candidate that wanted to do away with the MID.

Claire Easley is senior editor, online, at Builder.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Greenville, SC.